Reflection on Acts 16:16-34

 

"What must I do to be saved?…" ask the Jailer. At some time or another, all of us asked a variation of this question.

 

What must I do to overcome what hinders me? … What must I do to accomplish my goal?… What must I do to learn what I have to learn, to adapt where I have to adapt, and adjust where I have to adjust in order to deal with the situation at hand? … What must I do to be saved from what destroys me? What must I do to be saved from my particular burden, my addiction, my emptiness, or my pain?

 

Parables are stories whose intent is to bring hope and to make abstract concepts easy to understand. Parables are stories with intent that help us to answer a question, "What must I do…?" Parables are stories…

 

Do you realize how much time we spend telling and listening to stories?

 

When families gather for a special occasion (birthday, funeral, wedding, graduation, holiday) everybody shares stories. When the meal is over and dessert plates are stacked in the middle of the table, everybody gathers in a central place and memories begin to flow.

 

Each memory is a story and each story has meaning that goes beyond words. Each story has intent to convey or to teach something important (at least in the mind of a person who is telling the story). Each story has cultural meaning; the same story will be interpreted differently in different regions of the world or by people with different socio-economic, political or ethnical backgrounds. Meaning is found at the intersection of our stories.

 

The value of these stories goes far beyond entertainment. These stories define what we believe to be right, true and beautiful. These stories have meaning and power beyond anything that we easily recognize. These stories reveal our understanding of the way the world works. These stories define for us what is important in our lives and what is not. Stories our grandparents shared affect us today, just like the stories that we share today will affect countless future generations.

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