11 October 2010
28th 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 17:11ff
As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.
I have a picture from a newspaper article about a civil rights event where white-supremacists and neo-Nazis were taunting and antagonizing members of the gathering. The picture shows a young Black woman physically shielding a young man from the angry crowd clearly fed up with the racist provocations. The picture’s caption quotes the woman saying, “You can’t change someone by hitting him over the head.”
Francis de Sales always points us toward the interior as the foundational place for change and growth in life. It is essential to look at where our heart and mind are. In this gospel scene, Jesus cures ten people of a terrible disease that threatens their lives and makes them outcasts from their community. So the physical cure is a huge thing. However, it is only the tenth one who gives evidence of interior effect in his fulsome expression of gratitude to Jesus for the healing. The gospel even says, “One realizing he was healed.” Perhaps the others did not even realize an inner healing; clearly they did not express gratitude. In addition to being disease-free, the one leper has changed to become a grateful man—-a very good way to be in this life.
So much of the goal of service is about changing minds and hearts. That usually happens gradually and gently. De Sales was a big promoter of gentleness, persuasion, reason, and attractiveness to move people. But aren’t there times when a “hit over the head” can work pretty well? Failure, mistake, sin, humiliation, or a large fall can wake us up, open our eyes, get us moving in a changed direction. St. Francis would talk about these experiences in terms of embracing the cross.
How do we reach the interior of others to help them on a deep level?
How are we open to our interior being shaped and formed by God?
Are they any “hits over the head” that have the potential to move our hearts and minds?
2. Last Week in Camden
I had the opportunity to speak at an induction ceremony for a group at Salesianum called the Salesian Spirituality Commission. This is a group of students nominated for their commitment to service in the Salesian spirit. Also related to Sallies, two student leaders spoke powerfully to the Oblate Provincial Conference about the impact of their time in Camden.
Thursday ten members of Lilley Pharmaceutical’s oncology regional division came for a day of service. Sallies seniors were also here, and they all worked together to do major clean up around Holy Name School’s playground: painting a long wall and cleaning up the alley.
3. Upcoming Events.
Sallies will be here Tuesday and Thursday. And Holy Name Scholars, graduates of our grade school now supported in local Catholic high schools, will be here Saturday for their monthly Saturday service.
DSW will be represented and service fairs at Catholic University and at Loyola in Baltimore— recruiting for next year’s volunteers.
4. Peace and Justice Blog
Check out the Salesian peace and justice blog. Look for selections from the reflections of visiting students. Patrick Kennedy has another posting keeping concern about Haiti in our awareness and prayers, pointing us to another excellent update on the state of things in that island nation.
Thanks, Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS