Everyone's life tells a story. It might be long or short, simple or complex, exciting or dull, but regardless of its specific characteristics, a person's life story is never static. Part of being human is change, transformation, movement from one situation or attitude to another. As Christians, we know that these transformations are specially orchestrated by our loving God. The Blessed Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, changes minds, changes hearts, and changes lives as He meets and surrounds His children with His dynamic presence, with His profound power and love. How do we know this? The Bible, the inspired and inerrant Word of God, shows it to us. The Scriptures are filled with stories of people who have been transformed by the power and love of a God Who reaches out to touch them in the deepest part of their being and, in that touch, to awaken them, to give them a hunger for Him, to lead them to repent of their sins, to empower them to witness to His work in their lives, and to provide them with a new and living knowledge of Him, of His love, and of His plan for their salvation.
In this study, we will focus on stories of transformation in the Gospel of Luke. While nearly all Scriptural narratives involve some kind of change in the minds, hearts, and lives of the main characters, we will select only a few sample texts in order to illustrate a technique to help us recognize and respond to God's dynamic and transforming presence in the Bible. As we attentively read each passage, we will attempt to answer five questions. First, what was the main character like before his or her encounter with God? Here we will use clues from the text to determine the person's state of mind, heart, and life on the threshold of his or her intimate meeting with a Person of the Blessed Trinity. Second, what happened? We shall look closely at the events, the personal experiences of the divine presence, that produced a change in the main character's life story. Third, what was the person like after his or her encounter with God? To answer this question, we shall make note of transformations in the main character, paying special attention to differences in personality, way of life, and relations with God and others that can be directly attributed to the effects of the divine touch. Fourth, what does this person's story tell us about God? Vatican II's Dei Verbum declares that through Divine Revelation, including the Bible, God reveals not only His words and deeds; He reveals Himself. “[T]he invisible God,” the document continues, “out of the abundance of His love speaks to men as friends...and lives among them...so that He may invite and take them into fellowship with Him.” (1) God longs for us to know Him, to love Him, to be with Him, so He offers Himself to us on every page of the Scriptures. Our job is to embrace Him and to figure out what He is revealing about Himself in the stories of His transforming power and love. Fifth, how can we tap into this transforming power and love of God by applying our Scriptural reflections to our own lives? The Scriptures are not a dead letter but a living Word. As we open our hearts to meet God in the Bible, as we meditate carefully on the transformations He worked in the minds, hearts, and lives of our Biblical counterparts, as we notice parallels between them and us, we may discover that we, too, are being touched and transformed by God through the powerful mediation of the Sacred Scriptures, which Dei Verbum calls “the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life.” (2) As we progress through our texts, reflecting deeply on our five questions, we shall discover that God, through His dynamic, loving presence in the world and in each of us, does indeed transform His people's life stories, both those recounted in the Bible and those we live each and every day.
1. Vatican II Council, Dei Verbum (Boston: Pauline Books & Media, 1965), 3.
2. Ibid., 15.