Service Matters – 22nd Week in Ordinary Time

3 September 2013

22nd Week in Ordinary Time

St. Gregory the Great


A project of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in Camden, NJ, 

DeSales Service Works welcomes volunteers to join 

in service, prayer, and learning in our struggling neighborhood.



  •  Service Word
  •  Last Week in Camden
  •  Upcoming Events
  •  Links


1. Service Word  St. Paul’s Letter to Philemon

I, Paul, an old man,

and now also a prisoner for Christ Jesus,

urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus,

whose father I have become in my imprisonment;

I am sending him, that is, my own heart, back to you.

I should have liked to retain him for myself,

so that he might serve me on your behalf

in my imprisonment for the gospel,

but I did not want to do anything without your consent,

so that the good you do might not be forced but voluntary.

Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while,

that you might have him back forever,

no longer as a slave

but more than a slave, a brother,

beloved especially to me, but even more so to you,

as a man and in the Lord. 

So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me.


The Letter to Philemon is a unique document in the New Testament.   Paul writes the one page letter to an individual, Philemon, requesting that he accept back “his” escaped slave, Onesimus.


“His” gets quotation marks because no human can own another—a premise modern people take for granted.   However, for most of human history, slavery has been accepted as a natural fact of life—as unquestioned as the sun rising in the east each morning, as war being inevitable, and as marriage involving males “possessing” “their” wife and children.


The letter does not name slavery as sin and evil.   But the gospel, conveyed by the Apostle’s writings and by the Holy Spirit alive in the Church, leads every generation to question assumptions and to shine God’s vision on previously overlooked aspects of life.


St. Paul gambles on Phileomon’s commitment to gospel communion, that he will see Onesimus as more than a slave, a brother.    Maturity, the right choice, goodness cannot be forced.


So often, in Camden, and in every place, aren’t there situations when you just want to take over so the right choice happens?    But choices have to be voluntary not forced in order to actually suceed.   I’m thinking of addiction, work ethic, vision for possibilities, paths that seem clearly unhelpful for any sort of progress.   Example, offers of advice and insight, listening, faithful endurance, consequences—-prayer—these are the tools to help shape mature decisions.

-What do you think of St. Paul’s Letter to Philemon?

-Are there situations presently in you life where Paul’s approach would help?

-Have you seen prayer have impact?



2. Last Week in Camden

Newly graduated from DeSales University, philosophy major Bernard Camacho began his DSW year.   He got to work right away with orientation and service with the community in Northgate Park.

Saturday Ethan Stortz hosted a delicious cookout for him and the new Jesuit Volunteers at the DSW backyard patio.



3. Upcoming Events

Pope Francis has asked that Catholics, and all people, to offer this Saturday, 7 September, as a day of fasting and prayer for an end to the violence in Syria.    He put it this way:


There are so many conflicts in this world which cause me great suffering and worry, but in these days my heart is deeply wounded in particular by what is happening in Syria and anguished by the dramatic developments which are looming.


I appeal strongly for peace, an appeal which arises from the deep within me. How much suffering, how much devastation, how much pain has the use of arms carried in its wake in that martyred country, especially among civilians and the unarmed! I think of many children will not see the light of the future! With utmost firmness I condemn the use of chemical weapons: I tell you that those terrible images from recent days are burned into my mind and heart. There is a judgment of God and of history upon our actions which are inescapable! Never has the use of violence brought peace in its wake. War begets war, violence begets violence.



4. Links

Work continues on the new building for Joseph’s House of Camden Joseph’s House of Camden.   It will be able to accommodate 70 guests—up from 40 at our former temporary home at New Visions day shelter.   Check out the new floor plan.



Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS

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