Service Matters – 31st Week in Ordinary Time

4 November 2013

31st Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Charles Borromeo


A project of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, 

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       Luke 20:27-38

Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection,

came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying,

“Teacher, Moses wrote for us,

If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child,

his brother must take the wife

and raise up descendants for his brother.

Now there were seven brothers;

the first married a woman but died childless.

Then the second and the third married her,

and likewise all the seven died childless. 

Finally the woman also died. 

Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?

For all seven had been married to her.”

Jesus said to them,

“The children of this age marry and remarry;

but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age

and to the resurrection of the dead

neither marry nor are given in marriage.

They can no longer die,

for they are like angels;

and they are the children of God

because they are the ones who will rise. 

That the dead will rise

even Moses made known in the passage about the bush,

when he called out ‘Lord, ‘

the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;

and he is not God of the dead, but of the living,

for to him all are alive.”


Do you ever hear the distinction made between “religious” and “spiritual?”


Someone recently said to me,: “I’m not religious—that leads to division and conflict.  I’m spiritual.  I know my God; that’s very important to me.”   I suppose my priest’s black clothing provoked him to make that observation.   I thought I was just raking and cleaning up in Northgate Park.


The conflict we can observe in this gospel points to why the idea of some pure, free-standing spirituality would be attractive.  These Sadducees illustrate what gives religion a bad name—engaging in tired arguments, focusing on making their points, and aiming to make Jesus look bad—they miss the character of God at the heart of their religion.   You could say they demonstrate religion without spirituality.


Jesus directs them to God who is not of death or endless argument, but is of life, goodness, truth, and beauty.


The problem with “spirituality = good; religion = bad” position is that it seems to think there is a way to be human without distinctions, conflict, disagreement, differences, flavor, tradition, and context. But isn’t it true that human life is multilayered and often messy?    History is littered with individuals and movements that set out to reform, purify, reorganize—only to find out that no program can bleach out humanity’s complexity.


We see Jesus listen, welcome, and love.   He clearly believes there is a truth, but it is not narrow and is not there to beat dissenters and sinners over the head.


The Pope seems to be doing that same thing.   This quote from his September interview expresses his efforts to direct this generation to the heart of our faith.


…in this quest to seek and find God in all things there is still an area of uncertainty.   There must be.   If a person says that she has met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good.   For me this is an important key.   If one has the answers to all the questions—that is proof that God is not with him.   It means he is a false prophet using religion for himself.   The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses have always left room for doubt.   You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble.   Uncertainty is in every true discernment that is open to finding confirmation in spiritual consolation.

The risk in seeking and finding God in all things, then, is the willingness to explain too much, to say with too much human certainty and arrogance: “God is here.”   We will find only a god that fits our measure.


-Are there ways doubt has played a positive role in your relationship with God?

-How comfortable are you with the mystery and unknowable quality of the Christian faith? 

-What about church and religion help you connect with God and put Godly values into action?


2. Last Week in Camden

Monday and Wednesday Magis  groups of students from St. Joseph’s University visited to learn and serve.


Holy Name of Camden Ministries’ dinner honoring Cathedral Parish, Susan Mackey was great fun.    Oblate Matt Hillyard spoke about how Susan and the sandwich ministry team get food to the hungry who come to us each weekday.    Sr. Helen Cole, SSJ, and Tim Gallagher hosted a lovely gathering.


Thursday a Salesianum School homeroom served here.   We walked to the site of Joseph’s House and did some raking and clearing on the grounds.   Saturday seven Cristo Rey kids with two teachers arrived at 8:30 to join the community in planting 18 trees a couple blocks away from DSW in North Camden.   Later in the morning, a group from Temple University Newman Center—both recent graduates and present students—joined us for the day.


Saturday night some 450 people gathered in Wilmington, DE, for the Oblates’ annual fundraiser, Black Ties for White Collars.   It was a very good time and raised funds that will be put to good use.


Friday Tim Gallagher moved out of the DSW house after his rich and unforgetable years with DSW.   He will continue to work in North Camden but now will live across the river in Philly.   He will be missed in this community!   He has had a great impact on DSW community and on our many visitors over the years since 2009!



3. Upcoming Events

Magis is back Monday and Tuesday this week.    Thursday to Sunday a group will be here from Walsingham Academy in Williamsburg, VA.


Joseph’s House of Camden the homeless shelter we are involved in continues to make progress. Our building on Camden’s Atlantic Avenue, one mile from the Cathedral, will be ready for full operation by January.   We hope to find a temporary location in a church hall to offer shelter for a month and an half or or two months while rehab continues.   This Wednesday benefactor Jon Bon Jovi will visit the site to meet with other supporters and with neighbors who have benefited from the shelter in past winter seasons.



4. Links

Please remember Joseph’s House director, John Klein’s son in your prayers.   Cancer is battling against his health and life.

Please also pray for all the victims of the LAX shooting, especially Gerardo Hernandez and his family.   Also offer prayers for the shooter Paul Anthony Ciancia, a 2008 graduate of Salesianum in Wilmington, and his family.


God bless you,

Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS


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