27 September 2010
Feast of St. Vincent de Paul
26th Week in Ordinary Time
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
- Salesian Peace and Justice Blog
1. Service Word Luke 16:19-31
Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, “Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.”
Abraham replied, “My child, remember that you received what was good in your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing… .
Lazarus lying at the door is a literal experience in any place like Camden. This week one of our well-known homeless guys returned after several months away. Last week he sat, like Lazarus, at the door, depressed and in bad shape. He waits for a couple dollars for odd jobs and for metal of any kind. He makes a living by collecting scrap metal. Part of the reason we did not see him for so long is that I had talked to him about many things that had gradually disappeared, mostly metal things. The “disappeared” items included several air conditioners— fairly pricey appliances that might yield three or four dollars of salvageable metal. Finally, a coworker saw him walking away with some items. All that broke the trust we had built up and created a great chasm between us.
When I talked to him about this, he said, “I couldn’t do that to people who have given me so much.” I just took that in, but said to myself, “Yea, but you are still homeless; we did not get you a home.”
In the parable, Lazarus finally finds a home in the bosom of Abraham. That is a tender image for the ultimate home for us all—Jesus’ kingdom of God, the eternal place we belong, the state where all is as it should be, where there is no injustice, unfairness, incompleteness. Jesus stretches out his arms and bridges all great chasms inviting all to that home. Wherever we find ourselves, we try to do that as well, however partially, with the skills available to us.
Who is Lazarus in your life?
What is incomplete and how does the Lord invite you to make a home with him?
2. Last Week in Camden
Two more Salesianum groups came for service retreats. Holy Ghost Prep outside Philadelphia sent 15 fathers and sophomore sons for a morning of service in North Camden. Some of the group worked with DSW Volunteer Mike Morgan at HopeWorks. The others worked on Holy Name School grounds clearing out some overgrown rose-of-Sharon bushes, planting mums, a hardy banana tree, and pruning apple trees in the school yard. The efforts made a visual statement that communicates to all passing by that the Catholic school in North Camden is open for business.
This is a timely message, because last week the merger process for the three parishes in central Camden formally concluded. So, Holy Name Parish is no longer at 5th and Vine Street, but the school is there for good. The volunteers’ work helps get the message out; we are grateful.
Sunday the three communities filled the Cathedral to standing room capacity to celebrate the new parish formed from the three. We began with processions from each old building and then Mass with vibrant music and preaching in the Cathedral—the parish’s new home.
I participated in “Camp Trinity” the parish retreat of Holy Trinity in DC. The retreat took place at a beautiful conference center in the mountains of Virginia. Teens participated in Camden-inspired activities and collected underwear, socks and toiletries for the homeless. The collection included 300 orange tee shirts that will soon brighten North Camden.
3. Upcoming Events.
30 Thursday: Georgetown Visitation Academy meeting with religion classes and with leadership about their five trips to Camden this coming school year.
6 Wednesday: The first group of Father Judge freshmen comes for a service retreat.
8-12 De Sales University here for a long weekend for their fall break.
4. Peace and Justice Blog
Check out the Oblate peace and justice blog. There is a reflection on St. Vincent de Paul, patron saint of works of charity. Pat Kennedy points readers in the direction of the US bishops’ statement on poverty in the US and the current debate over taxes.
Thanks, Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS