In his recent book from Twenty-Third Publications, “Jesus and the Barbecued Fish Breakfast: A Gospel Story Sampler Inspired by the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius,” Jesuit priest, preacher, retreat director, storyteller, and author Fr. Dan Daly, SJ, presents his readers with an introduction, of sorts, to two “master storytellers” — Jesus of Nazareth and themselves.
The 120-page book, released in 2021 and already in its second printing, is about the power of story and storytelling – both about the stories of and about Jesus we find in the Gospels and about the stories we tell from our own lives of faith. Both, the book urges, are sacred and deserve to be heard.
The invitation in this book is not to enter into scripture as study (as important as that is) but, rather, into our own imaginations as a new and deeper way of knowing Jesus and ourselves. This is, of course, an essential way of praying for those praying the Spiritual Exercises, as well as those trying to live out that learned spirituality in their everyday lives.
He writes in the introduction: “I connect the gospel narratives to other stories that have special meaning to me and resonate with my experiences. The stubborn refusal of people to acknowledge that Jesus healed a blind man reminds me of the equally stubborn response that Copernicus received. The adventures of the lost sheep remind me of the time I wandered aimlessly through the Bronx. I hope that you will be able to recognize connections with your own favorite stories. Making such connections enriches and sharpens the gospel accounts and brings those narratives into the constellation of stories that tell us who we are.”
Following a brief introduction, Fr. Daly takes readers on a journey through the gospels via a series of imaginative stories, drawn from scripture but illuminated by his imagination and personal reflection — from the drawing of Jesus’ first followers in Capernaum to his life of teaching, healing and miracles, onto his final and darker moments in Jerusalem and, finally, into his new and risen life.
At the end of each short chapter, Fr. Daly provides questions for further exploration of the story, as well as possible connections to the life and faith of the reader. The book is delightfully illustrated by playful drawings by Thane Benson, an award-winning comic and graphic novel creator.
Note: Fr. Dan will be our guest on the next episode of Bridges Conversations on Facebook Live, scheduled for Thursday, August 10 at Noon. Go to: https://www.facebook.com/bridgesfoundationstl/