Fr. Howard underwent leg by-pass surgery on his right leg on July 23 at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Bro. Bob Roddy was there at the hospital and met with the surgeon after the surgery, which took over five hours to complete. Two clogged arteries were replaced in his right leg. The surgeon was able to get a pulse in Fr. Howard’s ankle after the surgery was completed, a good sign.

Fr. Howard returned to St. Joseph Cupertino Friary at Prior Lake for rehab and recovery on Monday, July 27th. Fr. Howard’s spirits are good. He is a bit sore where the incisions are, but everything looks good so far.  Any cards may be sent to the Friary, 16385 St. Francis Lane, Prior Lake, MN 55372.

Please remember Fr. Howard and all our friends who are in need of healing (as well as their caregivers) in your prayers.

Bro. Bob Roddy, OFM Conv., Director

Fr. Howard Hansen’s reflections for the 18th week in Ordinary Time 2007 

While Fr. Howard is recovering from his surgery, we will reprise his homilies from past years. Some of these homilies are based on a different set of readings than the cycle we are currently using, but their insight and wisdom remains true. He looks forward to resuming the homilies in a few weeks.

                                                                              Monday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
                                                                                           Mt. 14: 13-21

Today’s Gospel selection gives us Matthew’s version of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, the only miracle that appears in all four Gospels. I have read many different themes coming from this miracle story: that it is a prefigures the Eucharist, that it gives us the image of the reign of God as a banquet, that it presents us with the idea of God’s providence and care for his people, that it shows the compassion of God for the Israelites in the Old Testament in feeding them manna in the desert. Recently I read another interpretation that really interested me: the miracle of the loaves and fishes signifies the building of community through the sharing of what we have with others. This is really how community is formed when you stop to think about it. We could even go so far as to say that this occasion of the miracle of the loaves and fishes was the beginning of the community we now call the Church.

It was sharing that led to this miracle and the beginning of this community of hungry, loving people. The young boy (John 10: 9) who had the five barley loaves and the two fish gave them to the disciples, shared what he had with all, and Jesus did the rest.

And so it is with any other community I can think of. Nations, States, families, religious orders and congregations, parishes, schools, AA groups, Altar and Rosary Societies, nursing homes, the Boy Scouts, and any other group of people joined together for a specific purpose may be called communities. And all of them depend on the sharing of the individuals, the members of the community, to be a viable group. We can all see this in our families. All the members, from the youngest to the oldest, contribute their gifts, talents, work, cooperation for the good, happiness and support of everyone else in the family. All are gifted in a special, unique way and all are needed by all the others to obtain the purpose of the whole. And the same thing is true in our dioceses, parishes, the whole Church, and all the other communities we mentioned and more.

Let us realize today that irregardless of how little we may think we are, how unimportant we are, we are all vital parts of the communities to which we belong. The whole depends on the sum of all its parts. The Gospel parable for today offers us all the opportunity to reflect on and ask ourselves whether we are doing our part, contributing our share, with God’s help, in the communities to which we belong.

Fr. Howard 

Tuesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time, August 4 
St. John Vianney

Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of St. John Vianney, perhaps better known as the “Cure of Ars.” He was born in 1786 in Lyons, France. He wanted nothing more in life than to become a priest but it soon became evident that he would not be able to master the studies required for priestly ordination. Once more, however, it was soon to be seen that Jesus had called John to the priesthood not because of what or who he was, but for what he would become. A kind priest friend of his tutored him privately and John was able to be ordained in 1815, “by the skin of his teeth,” Three years later he was made Pastor in the Church of Ars, a remote French town. Soon John’s reputation as a confessor and spiritual director spread through all of France and then to all of Christian Europe. People came from all over to seek his spiritual assistance. It is said that he heard confessions for 16 hours each day. He died on August 4, 1859, at the age of 73. He was canonized a Saint on May 31, 1925, and is the patron Saint of all parish priests.

St. John Vianney, Cure of Ars, pray for us.

Fr. Howard

                                                                                               Wednesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
                                                                                                                                               Mt. 15: 21-28

The Gospel appointed to be read on this day is a Gospel that shows Jesus coming not to do away with the Old Law but rather to fulfill it with a new interpretation. The Pharisaic interpretation of the law was their holier-than-thou attitude that the Messiah had come for the Jewish people alone and not for the Gentiles. Jews referred to anyone who was not a Jew as “dogs or swine,” as we see in the remark made by Jesus in the Gospel, “It is not right to take the food of the children [the Jews] and throw it to the dogs [the Gentiles].”

Matthew had just finished narrating Jesus’ criticism of the Pharisees as being blind people leading blind people with both falling into a pit (Mt. 15: 14). He follows this with today’s Gospel of the Canaanite woman’s faith in which faith alone was necessary for her to come to Christ. Her nationality made no difference. “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And Jesus healed this foreigner’s daughter.

There are many passages in Scripture that show Jesus’ rejection of this holier-than-thou attitude both then and now when it shows up in us. Take for example the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax-Collector in Luke 18: 9-14: “The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax-collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’ But the tax-collector …… beat his breast and said, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former.”

God doesn’t think the way we do. We all have our bit of the holier-than-thou attitude. I pray more than he does – I help my neighbor more than she does – I go to Mass every morning and they don’t even go on Sunday…and on and on and on. And our prejudices based on race, religion, education, color of your hair, etc., are innumerable. When are we going to learn that we are all God’s children and none of the rest of this stuff we get ourselves into makes any difference to Jesus at all?

I found a quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu which sums up this whole thing very well. I would like to quote it here: “Many years ago…we (blacks) were thought to be human, but not quite as human as white people, for we lacked what seemed indispensable to that humanity – a particular skin color. We have a wonderful country with truly magnificent people, if only we could be allowed to be human together.”

Let’s see what we can do by allowing each other, whoever or whatever we are, to be human together. Jesus, please help us in this effort.

Fr. Howard

Thursday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
The Transfiguration of the Lord

Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration in their Gospels. And all three of them report a bright cloud casting a shadow over them and from the cloud came the voice of God saying: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Jesus himself many times in the Scriptures tells us that we have ears but we do not hear. We have ears bit do not listen to what he is saying. This seems to be one of the most heard divine pleas in Scripture to God’s people: Listen!

We too are transfigured and changed and this happens from our listening to the word of God. As I have stated before many times, there are two main places in Sacred Scripture responsible for my own conversion from the disease of alcoholism in my life: “I am the way, the truth and the life,” and “Without me, you can do nothing.” When I really accepted, listened to these words of Jesus, I was transformed toward being a new person. But many times I still catch myself doing things my way again. I still am not listening when I do that. I am afraid we are all like this many times every day.

Lord, be patient with us as we try and do our best today to listen to your words.

Fr. Howard

Friday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Mt. 16: 13-23

“Who do people say the Son of Man is?” This is a recurring question all through the Scriptures. The answer we give is part of the reason why we read and reread the Scriptures over and over, day in and day out. Who is this man, Jesus?

To arrive at the answer, however, requires more than just reading and learning, more than the proverbial head-trip. To arrive at the answer requires a leap, or maybe several leaps, of faith; to let go and let God and see the results, to let go and let God and see that God is really there in Jesus. This is why surrender is so important for it is mainly in surrendering that we will encounter God and it is only in encountering him, meeting him, that we move from the head to the heart. Surrendering produces not one, but many heart-trips. And only when this happens can we answer the question Jesus asks us all: “Who do you say that I am?”

Fr. Howard

Saturday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time, Aug. 8 
Memorial of St. Dominic

Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of St. Dominic, Founder of the Order of Preachers or the Dominicans. St. Dominic (1170-1221) and St. Francis (1182-1226) were contemporaries and friends. St. Dominic was born in Calaruega, Spain, and studied at the University of Palencia where he was probably ordained around the year 1199. Dominic spent a great deal of time and effort preaching against the Albigensian heresy. It is almost impossible to condense all the tenets of this heresy in the short space we have here. It begins by asserting the co-existence of two mutually opposed principles, one good and the other bad, and it goes on to divide up the world and what is in it to one or the other of these principles. If you wish more details, they are available in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

Dominic received Pope Honorius III’s approval for his Order of Preachers in 1216. He spent the remainder of his years organizing his new Order all over Italy, Spain and France. He died on August 8, 1221. He was canonized in 1234 and is the patron saint of astronomers. Why, I do not know.

St. Dominic, pray for us.

Fr. Howard

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