by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle
Reviewed by Valeria Stokes
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle’s text, Telling the Story of Jesus, provides a reflective analysis of his Christian identity and the communication of the story of Jesus in Asia. Although the last chapter is a presentation to the 2006 Asian Mission Congress in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the preceding chapters lay the foundation of the role of communication in presenting the story of Jesus. The forward by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, offers the thesis for the text by explaining the oral tradition of the Gospel and that the proclamation of the message of Jesus Christ is the Good News that we as Christians are called to share. This Good News is a message that should, as he notes in Gal 5:22, radiate with the fruits of the Holy Spirit including love, peace, and joy (pg. 13).
Cardinal Tagle addresses communication as a communion in the Word providing examples of Mary’s story of the immaculate conception through the death and resurrection of Jesus, the receiving of the Eucharist in spiritual worship and authentic adoration, and by attributing the story of Jesus’ life, miracles, suffering, death, and resurrection as the mission of the church. It is through this communion in the Word of Jesus in which the experience with each Eucharist allows us to contribute to “building up of a world of unity and peace” (pg. 22).
He offers written narrative to explain that all human experiences are presented through stories and when listened, it mediates life and its meaning. Sharing the life and experiences of Jesus is based upon the direct observations and accounts of the apostles, and therefore we are not only evangelizing the Word but have actions that are grounded in the Word. We place importance on the dignity of people (poor and all families) and the responsibilities we have for the earth. We do what Jesus says, “behold mothers and fathers who lose their children to hunger, diseases, wars, illegal drugs, sex tourism, immorality, false philosophies and empty utopias (pg. 32).
A quest for fame, power, wealth in absence of the Word are the idolaters that result in oppression of people, suppression of voices, and loss of the mission of the church and are consequences of the absence of communicating and acting on the Word of Jesus.
Although Cardinal Tagle ends his text with his personal reflection of how to communicate the story of Jesus in Asia, the approach is applicable to all cultures, since each culture may receive the story within the social and spiritual context of their society. As he says, “a story reveals the personal identity, a story of faith in Jesus reveals also the identity of the narrator as a believer” (pg. 65). It is a story told by those believers within the social context and not as a separate Christian identity.