Written by Fr. Dale Minor - Reclaim Ministry - Rutland, OH
“Grandpa, tell me a story about when you were a kid,” might be a request some of us
more elderly citizens have heard from our grandchildren, at least from the younger
ones amongst us. Once they get to be preteens, just the hint of a story rising from the
lips of the older generation produces a rolling of the eyes preliminary to a quick exit to escape the boredom of hearing for the umpteenth time some exaggerated adventure involving the “good old days.”
Yet, there will come a time in their lives when these young folks will long to hear these stories. Tthey will search their memories for details of family lore and ask their relatives to fill in the blanks and their longing isn’t so much for the entertainment value of the story, but for the wisdom contained within it.
We live in an information age; so much information can be found at our fingertips. We carry it around in our iPhones and other electronic devices. It is before us to the point that printed maps, operation and repair manuals, personal letters, even printed books are fast becoming obsolete. Instead, if we desire information on
anything, we grab our device, click on an icon or two and, within seconds, we have more information than we want or need. But the problem is this information comes in short sound bites, in abbreviated texts. It’s as if the sum of our knowledge and wisdom has been reduced to an index of topics which tend to be ignored more than
When we consider the accumulated knowledge in our world, we come to realize that so much of what we know came from stories handed down generation to generation. Prior to the mid fifteenth century, little was written down and only a very few could read what was written. Oral tradition had been and would continue to be the primary means for the spread of wisdom and knowledge. This was particular true in matters of faith and religion.
“For He (God) established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children, that they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God; but keep the commandments.” (Ps. 78:5-7)
This is just one of hundreds of verses in the Bible which instruct us to teach the word of God and His precepts from generation to generation. What is to be taught is more than tales of old but truths to be believed and concepts to be lived. As we study scripture, we hear over and over again how this process of knowledge
worked, that not only the accumulated wisdom was passed along, but the finer details of times past. The Bible contains hundreds of genealogies, listings of people, places and occurrences important to the development of each generation. It was done because God deemed it important. He instructed the fathers to tell their sons, and the sons to tell their children to the present age. In giving these instructions, he was asking that they do more than transfer information, but they must interact with those who will carry on God’s work, that they share the character of God: His wisdom, His love, kindness, generosity, and mercy.
Anyone who has studied the Bible knows that just reading it doesn’t reveal the fullness of the message. It has to be discussed, torn apart, examined, re-read, and experienced. This is a task which will take a lifetime and, in the process, we learn that having read and heard the word of God doesn’t satisfy. It has to be shared and the most effective means of sharing it is in living it and in its demonstration.
“Grandpa, tell me a story about Jesus.”