The Power of Storytelling
Do you remember Paul Harvey? Depending upon how young you are, the name may mean nothing to you. But for those of us who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s, he was a very intriguing storyteller. He had a bit of a raspy voice that captured your attention as he would mysteriously unfold his stories and their surprise endings, which he would introduce with his trademark phrase, “And now for the rest of the story.”
Not only did I love Paul Harvey’s surprise endings – I also loved that his stories always had a point. I wonder if the ultimate storyteller would be impressed? In this week’s Gospel, Jesus tells the people a few parables and then unfolds the mystery of one of them to his disciples.
Searching for Meaning in a Story
Jesus talked about the things that people used every day. Wheat, seeds, yeast, and farming; these were common themes of Jesus’ time. He used these items to help people understand the kingdom of heaven. In one of the parables in this week’s Gospel, Jesus tells the people that heaven is like a man whose field of wheat has become infested with weeds by an evil enemy. Instead of trying to pull all of the weeds, the farmer leaves the weeds in the field until harvest time, and then he gathers both the wheat and the weeds. The wheat is gathered into the barn and the weeds are burned.
Of course, even though Jesus talked about these things that were common 2,000 years ago in the arid country where he lived, not everyone truly understood. After sharing the parables, Jesus dismissed the crowds and went inside with the disciples. The disciples then asked to know what Jesus meant by the weeds in the field.
Isn’t that interesting? Jesus’ chosen followers – his own disciples – needed help understanding him. Of course, the same is often true today. We can get so wrapped up being involved in daily events – even church events – that we miss the true meaning of Christianity. Being active in the Church doesn’t guarantee being Christ-like, just as being a disciple of Christ didn’t guarantee an initial complete understanding of Jesus’ teachings.
So Jesus, like Paul Harvey, lays out “the rest of the story” for his disciples. He tells them he is the sower of good seed, the world is the soil, and the good seeds are the children of heaven. The weeds, on the other hand, are the children of the evil one and the enemy is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world. The righteous will be gathered like the wheat, and the evildoers will be burned up like the bundles of weeds.
The line that surprised me the most when reading the Gospel was where Jesus said, “They will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin.” It’s not just people who sin, but people who cause others to sin. It is – and always has been – about how you interact with others. If you live your life manipulating, intimidating, and lying to your friends, family, and community, then you are a cause of not just your sin but theirs too.
The Rest of the Story
If spreading evil to others is the one way to get burned up in the fiery furnace, what would make one a righteous child of God? I believe it is all about how you use your time, treasure, and talents. God has filled the world with many different people who possess a variety of skills. It’s our duty to find our talents and use them for good.
Using our gifts and talents for good sounds obvious, right? Well, watch the evening news or read about current happenings online. Apparently it’s not obvious to most people! There are abusive priests, power-hungry politicians, out-of-control sports figures, and science deniers. We have people who actively promote hatred of others because of the color of their skin, the country where they were born, or how they worship and pray! And these are just the people that are in the news. Try thinking of all the nasty things that some of our friends and family do and say on a regular basis.
So if it’s not obvious, then it can’t be easy. Or can it? If you’re an excellent writer, then write stories that inspire people. If you enjoy building things, then build houses for those who have none. If you have a successful career, then help those who don’t have the same opportunities as you. We all have gifts, talents, and blessings in our lives. The straightforward task is to put them to good use. Jesus redeemed us with his sacrifice, and if we truly accept his freely given grace, then our natural response should be to spread a little love, kindness, and joy!
Paul Harvey reported “the rest of the story,” but we get to actually create it. The world is in rough shape, with terrible things happening every day – so decide what you want “the rest of the story” to be. Choose correctly, follow the teachings of Christ, and the ultimate end to your story is that you will be like the precious wheat. You’ll be gathered into the barn by the Master and spend eternity with Him in heaven!
What makes someone a good storyteller?
What do Jesus’ stories mean to you?
What are your God-given talents? How do you use them to spread joy to others?
Original article by Rod Hetherton, 2002 – 2020.
Revised and edited by Brandon Jubar, 2020.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.