In order to introduce people to Jesus Christ, it is incumbent on us catechists to tell the stories of Jesus’ amazing deeds, beginning with the stories we have in Scripture in which he opens the eyes of the blind, heals the sick, changes water into wine, calms the storm, and raises people from the dead. Too often, we rush to teach doctrinal concepts while those we’re teaching don’t even know the story of Jesus Christ!
As catechists, we must introduce those we teach to the Jesus of the Gospels—making these stories the centerpiece of our catechesis. Jesus himself taught most often by telling stories and by performing actions that became stories in and of themselves. If we want to proclaim the great deeds of the Lord in a way that touches the hearts of those we teach, we need to reclaim the art of storytelling and invite those we teach to reflect on the stories of the Gospel as a way of encountering Jesus.
One of the foremost experts on the art of storytelling in recent times, prolific author and speaker Jack Shea, reminds us that our storytelling of Jesus begins with this mindset:
I never saw him. I never heard him. I never touched him. But there were those who did. And they told others, who told others, who told others still, who eventually told me. And now, in my turn, I tell you. And you, then, can tell others. And so, you see, there will never be an end to it. (An Experience Named Spirit, pg.19)
Shea asserts that the, “Memory of Jesus is necessary to discern the present activity of the Spirit.” (52) In other words, if we hope to lead those we teach to encounter Jesus in the present, we must powerfully proclaim the Gospel stories that convey his memory.
Storytelling creates what Christian author Nate Wilson refers to as “the aroma of the Gospel.” With that in mind, I am thrilled to tell you about a book that can help you to create the “aroma of the Gospel” for those you teach: God with Us: The Story of Jesus as Told by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, by Roger Quy and Ricardo Grzona. This book, which reconstructs the story of Jesus chronologically from the four Gospels, beginning with the announcement of his birth to his Resurrection, enables catechists to invite learners (intermediate through adult) to read about the acts and words of Jesus from the original source and written in modern language. Through this “greatest story ever told,” learners will better understand Jesus’ language of love and become inspired to follow him as disciples. Each of the 20 chapters consists of a half-dozen (on the average) shorter stories. Questions for discussion and meditation are provided to help learners deepen their understanding of Jesus’ teachings and integrate them naturally into daily life.
Catechists, Catholic school teachers, RCIA teams, and small faith groups can use this wonderful resource to enter into the story of Jesus Christ chronologically in bits and pieces over weeks and months, stopping along the way to meditate on the stories (including doing lectio divina) and engage in discussion about how these stories speak to us today and what they reveal about Jesus Christ.
May this book help you to create the “aroma of the Gospel” in your faith formation setting.