Today’s homily will have two parts to it. I will present a short homily and then I will introduce Richard Schumacher and he will speak about his role as the business manager of the four parishes of our Area Catholic Community.
My key word for today is prayer because prayer is part of our Lenten formula of prayer, fasting and works of mercy. Prayer means talking to God and God talking to us.
Genesis, chapter 15, tells us that one evening, while Abraham was praying, after sunset, before it was completely dark, he saw a burning torch and he knew that it was the Lord. He saw the Lord performing a covenant ritual. This ritual was a very ancient ritual for signing a contract. A goat, a heifer and a ram are killed and cut in half. The parties to the contract seal the agreement by walking between the halves and saying to each other, “If I break this agreement, you have my permission to cut me in half - just as these are animals are cut in half.”
As you can see, they took their covenant agreements very seriously in those days. The bottom line is that Abraham saw the Lord moving between the halves of the animals and he heard the Lord saying, “I will be your God and you will be my people.” That is what Abraham experienced when he was praying one day. God was ratifying a new covenant agreement: “I will be your God and you will be my people.”
Six centuries later, when Moses was talking to God at the top of Mount Sinai, God spoke to him. God said, “Here are my ten Commandments. Tell my people to follow them as part of their covenant relationship with me.” These commandments were written on stone tablets by the finger of God. When Moses finished his prayers he picked up the stone tablets and headed down the mountain to show them to his people.
Four centuries later the prophet Elijah went to Mount Sinai for a time of prayer. He wanted God to tell him what to do next. He listened for the voice of God in the powerful wind. No results. He listened for the voice of God in the earthquake. No results. He listened for the voice of God in a blazing fire. No results. Finally he heard a tiny whispering sound…and that was the voice of God. God gave him a new assignment. God said, “Go back to the Northern Kingdom and tell them that soon they will have a new king.”
In today’s Gospel we have another prayer experience which took place at the top of a mountain. Jesus took Peter, James and John up a mountain to pray. That was their purpose for climbing the mountain. They went there to pray. When they arrived they saw three prayerful people: Moses, Elijah and Jesus. After a short time, the disciples fell asleep. When they woke up; when they were coming through their twilight zone, they saw Jesus and he was radiant with glory. Moses and Elijah were also radiant in glory and they said that Jesus would enter eternal glory after suffering in Jerusalem.
When the disciples came down the mountain, they did not tell others about their prayer experience. Rather, they kept that memory close to their hearts. And that picture of the glorified Christ helped them later. It helped them to understand that Jesus had first to endure suffering before entering into his glory. Their prayer experience on the mountaintop helped them to remember that suffering is not the final chapter in the story. Rather, glory is the final chapter. Their mountaintop experience of glory helped them through the hard times.
And that is the lesson of today’s Gospel. It helped them to understand that Good Friday suffering would lead to Easter glory because they were allowed to see the glorified Christ before he suffered and died.
Now let’s move forward to our situation today. We say that Lent is a time for spiritual renewal…. a time to renew our prayer life. When we talk to Jesus during our times of prayer, he will talk to us. He will help us to see that our times of suffering will lead to times of healing. We will move from the ashes of Ash Wednesday to the glorious celebration of Easter Sunday.
I don’t have the text of Richard’s presentation but here are some of his key messages:
1. He grew up in Dayton, Minnesota. He has ten brothers and sisters.
2. He attended high school and junior college at Crosier Seminary in Onamia. He finished college at Saint Mary’s in Winona.
3. Then he taught at a grade school in Chicago.
4. Then he owned and operated his own floral shop in Chicago.
5. Three and a half years ago he joined Sacred Heart Parish in Wahkon after purchasing a home near Wahkon.
6. He currently serves as the financial secretary for the Sacred Heart Knights of Columbus.
In his role as business manager he will handle the administrative and management tasks of the four parishes so that the finances are carefully supervised and the buildings are well maintained.