by Ken Rolheiser
Keyboard failure and the faith hook

After the service a parishioner thanked the minister for the wonderful sermon. "I found it so helpful," she said. The minister replied, "I hope it will not prove as helpful as the last sermon you heard." "Why, what do you mean?" asked the astonished woman. "Well," said the minister, "that sermon lasted you three months."

We may smile at that unless it strikes too close to home. The call for us is always to grasp our Faith, to pray for Faith, and to rediscover our Faith so that we can take the love of Jesus to our families, our fellow Christians and the world.

I was working on my computer when the keyboard and the mouse became unresponsive. A message flashed: KEYBOARD FAILURE. My computer was not going to accomplish anything until that FAILURE was looked after.

We have countless members in our churches who have become non-responsive to God’s call to go out and spread the good news to all. We have a KEYBOARD FAILURE. 

How can we learn to recognize what Jesus is asking us to do? Faith can move mountains, but don't be surprised if God hands you a shovel! (Unknown).

A famous advertising man was asked to speak to a group of clergymen about revitalizing their congregations. They hoped to use his media skills to advantage. He surprised them.

“If God has forsaken you, what can a poor advertising man do for you? Do you no longer understand, dear reverends, what actually gave that little group of apostles on the day of Pentecost such tremendous power that it was sufficient to transform the Western World? There was no advertising in the old sense. It was rather the influencing power of Faith that accomplished that miracle.” 

He went on to say, “Because you yourselves no longer feel the influencing power of faith within you, you try to substitute tactical cleverness for the faith of a strong soul. And when you do that, you sink ever deeper into the realm of no response.” (from Sunday Sermons treasury of Illustrations, James F. Colaianni).

The solution is in faith “that guides us and allows us to think, act, interact, and even love, because we trust that there is love at the heart of the universe, and a providence that draws us to our ends.” (Brian Caulfield, Fathers for Good editor).

We need a hook of Faith, a way to catch the imaginations of the “faithful” as the apostles did on the first Pentecost. This requires love and the dedication we have seen in the saints before us.

My parents had us “hook, line and sinker”. Their selfless dedication to the family, through thick and thin, had us catching their faith. We were hooked.

I remember an agonizing decision my parents made one drought-riddled summer. Should they leave the farm and its debts and its drought? Try to move their family elsewhere? I saw the balancing effect of the roots in the farm faith community where their parents had prevailed.

And I was aware of the faith that carried us through that crisis and others: the daily prayers as a family – the rosary, the Angelus, meal prayers, and morning and night prayers.

There is a new call for us is to grasp our Faith, to pray for Faith, to rediscover our Faith so that we can take the love of Jesus to our families, our fellow Christians and the world.

(575 words)