Service Matters – 32nd Week in Ordinary Time

8 November 2010

Blessed John Duns Scotus

32nd 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 20

Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to Jesus … .


Some of the saddest moments in the gospels are ones like this.   A group or an individual asks Jesus a question, but not out of genuine curiosity or sense of awe at the wonder of creation.   They are in the presence of Goodness, Truth and Beauty made flesh, and they ask small, scripted questions in order to make their point and to trip up Jesus.    Life raises many questions for anyone who is paying attention, and the issue in this gospel is a huge one.   Resurrection has to do with the meaning of human life—What is the point of all our work, accomplishments and goals and longings?  —And what does the faithfulness, justice, power and love of God mean in light of death and loss?


Spending any time in Camden raises many of these types of large questions.   Why do some people have such a hard life, while others do not?   How did this nine by nine square mile pocket of poverty develop?  What will it take to fix it?   How can we get jobs, housing, strong families, wholesome religion, quality education, and robust work ethic flourishing in this community?   Why do some people get hooked and dragged under by alcohol or drugs?    Looking at children in our neighborhood, you have to ask, “Why do people have such different starting points for life?”—So many are clearly, tragically dysfunctional.


These are difficult questions.   A temptation can be to look for quick solution: a big benefactor (Oprah, Bon Jovi, or Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg [why not Camden next time, instead of Newark.]), or another master plan, more money, or a targeted big project. These proposals no doubt come from desire to do something to help, maybe to exercise control over something beyond control.  For some questions there are simply no satisfactory answers.


We can learn from the specific issue this gospel raises; belief in resurrection requires a leap of faith beyond what we see or experience.   And in the end, Christian faith rests on the trustworthiness of Jesus, and his power and goodness.   That faith calls believers to make big gifts, to contribute creatively to visionary planning, but most of all, to love each neighbor.   Isn’t that what resurrection is all about?   God loves each person beyond all human dysfunction: our limits, addictive behaviors, smallness, sin, and even the ultimate dysfunction—death.   Again, big picture things are important, but small actions, person-to- person efforts matter.   Kindness, schooling, food for the hungry, clothing for the naked, teaching and modeling alternative ways to deal with anger and conflict, trying to live the priorities of the Gospel, helping with child-rearing —all make a difference.   This is true in Camden and places like here, as well as in every place we find ourselves.


How are you involved in big picture projects?

What kind of leap of faith might God be calling you to at this point in life?

How do you deal with unresolved issues?  And how does your faith in God connect here?


2. Last Week in Camden

Saturday night DSW joined Oblate friends and supporters in Wilmington, Delaware for the Black Ties for White Collars dinner dance.  Everyone had a great time.  The volunteers stayed the night in Wilmington, enjoying the hospitality of the Oblates at Salesianum, and then Mass and brunch Sunday morning at the Provincial’s Residence.


Salesianum senior, Ian Smith, created a three-minute video in an impressionistic style that captures the experience of coming to Camden for a service retreat.   The film features segments of interviews of three homeless young people and is very artistic and effective.   Check it out on YouTube— and soon on our website.


3. Upcoming Events.

Holy Name Scholars will be here to serve on Saturday.

Visitation Academy in Georgetown is donating canned goods that students have collected.   Tim Gallagher’s parish, St. Katherine of Siena in Philadelphia, has collected socks and underwear for our neighbors to be distributed via New Visions day shelter and our free clothing store.   Thanks to them and to all our supporters!


4. Peace and Justice Blog

Check out Pat Kennedy’s blog.   Comment on my unresolved, open-ended reflections on the power of gentleness and the other “little virtues” for our busy, aggressive world.

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