The word, ‘narrative,’ today has acquired a bad connotation because it now is made to refer to attempts to conform our views according to a preconceived storyline that would already suggest bias and prejudice. It’s like things are scripted and controlled, and as a consequence objectivity is compromised.
This is especially so in the area of public opinion where different ideological and political groups defend their views according to their ideological and political principles and doctrines.
Those concerned simply have to stick to the narrative of their ideology and politics. Thus, you can have the liberals and the conservatives defending their views according to the narrative of their ideological and political position.
Of course, this is a very understandable phenomenon. One sees and understands things according to how he is, conditioned as he is by so many factors and elements. A gospel passage somehow says as much. “The heart speaks out of the abundance of the heart.” (Mt 12,34)
Unfortunately, the word, ‘narrative,’ with its negative connotation is also applied by many people today to the Christian faith. They say that because of some people’s faith, they cannot be objective, and thus, cannot see the wisdom behind the things like abortion, divorce, same-sex marriage, etc.
This is, of course, a blatant misconception of faith, regarding it as one more man-made ideology and political platform. To be sure, all man-made ideologies and political platforms have many things that can do good to all of us. But they cannot capture everything that is proper to us. To be sure also, they cannot by themselves bring us to our spiritual and supernatural goal.
Yes, it can be said that the word, ‘narrative,’ can also be applied to our Christian faith. But it is a narrative that should not be understood the way we understand it with respect to our ideologies and politics, etc.
The narrative of faith does not control and script things the way the narrative of the ideologies and politics does. It is not something that is limited the way the latter are limited. It has infinite ways of adapting itself to any situation we can find ourselves in, so that it can help us to attain our ultimate end which is not only natural but also supernatural.
And what is the nature and purpose of our Christian faith? As the Catechism teaches us, our faith is meant to bring us back to where we came from, that is, to be with God for all eternity.
“It pleased God, in his goodness and wisdom,” says the Catechism, “to reveal himself and to make known the mystery of his will. His will was that men should have access to the Father, through Christ, the Word made flesh, in the Holy Spirit, and thus become sharers in the divine nature.” (51)
The Christian faith is revealed and taught to us in full by Christ. It has been entrusted to the Church for its integral transmission to the different generations until the end of time. Its light is constant and always relevant.
But we have to understand the Christian faith is not so much pure doctrine alone as a vital union with Christ. The doctrine serves as a path to be with Christ, but it does not replace Christ. It is not one more ideology whose light is not constant and not always relevant.
The narrative of faith is a living thing that knows how to adjust and adapt to the different situations we can find ourselves in. Being divine and redemptive in nature and purpose, it has infinite possibilities of adapting to all our possible situations and conditions and of giving us the means to attain our ultimate goal in life.
It does not get lost along the way, no matter how messy we make our life here on earth. In good times and bad, it shows us the way to attain our ultimate goal.