A good story has a wonderful way of touching our hearts. From childhood on, we love to hear them. Over the years, I have told stories in my books and lectures. Often, they were my stories—those of my family or a personal experience that touched my heart.
As I began telling stories, those hearing them often said, “Bob, you did not tell your story, you told mine.” But I knew that did tell my story! Their words indicated that my stories were theirs as well. Then, I realized that a deep story with a heartfelt message touches a universal cord in all of us.
On one level we are different—men, women, rich, poor, doctors, professors, writers, custodians, single or married people of various racial or ethnic configurations. Deep down, however, we are all the same, ordinary people. The deepest dimensions of all human stories are the same, even though we frame them in different ways.
Heartfelt stories tell us that all of us need to love and be loved, to search for meaning, and to discover our identity. We crave happiness and joy. We ask where we came from, where we are going, and why are we here at all. We struggle, are vulnerable, feel lonely, and need support. At the root of it all, we need God.
Jesus was a storyteller. He told stories to different audiences, but his root message spoke to what was the same in all of them. He spoke to the common needs in Simon Peter, Mary Magdalene, the tax collector, the woman at the well, lepers, and soldiers. Because he touched their hearts with a message of hope and love, his words changed the world.
We continue Jesus’ story through the testimony of our lives, as we bring, freedom, healing, and hope to others. Let us thank God for telling us his story and inviting us to share it with others.
Fr. Robert J. Hater, a Cincinnati diocesan priest, is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Dayton and a Professor of Pastoral and Systematic Theology at the Athenaeum of Ohio. Fr. Hater, author of over 30 books, is an internationally known speaker and writer.