Service Matters – Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

28 May 2013

Eighth 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
  •  Links


1. Service Word   Luke 9

Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God,

and he healed those who needed to be cured.

As the day was drawing to a close,

the Twelve approached him and said,

“Dismiss the crowd

so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms

and find lodging and provisions;

for we are in a deserted place here.”

He said to them, “Give them some food yourselves.”

They replied, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have,

unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.”


The gospels offer powerful insight and so much to ponder and puzzle.   One thing however, that has bothered me from childhood, and still does, is healing.   A significant part of Jesus’ ministry is the healing he offers people.   Healings are signs of God’s power and love that cannot be missed, and it is much needed in our world, then and now.   I personally would love to walk around this city literally curing addicts, people with broken bodies, people with no teeth, all the mentally ill.


Horace McKenna 1899-1982 was a Jesuit priest who served the poor in a Washington neighborhood just blocks from the US Capitol and was key in developing the extensive service agency there called SOME (So Others May Eat).    One concept he termed, “slow miracles,” helps make sense of how we ordinary and modern people heal the needy.


In the gospel we see Jesus accomplish things in an instant.   For whatever reason, that is not how it works for us.  But miracles still happen—God works through us slowly, when we bring what we have and offer that to God.


A Jesuit who lived with Fr. McKenna told me recently that very often Horace would worry if he was really helping in a particular situation or just “enabling.”   He would question and wonder how to really assist the cure of the women and men he encountered—-even thought he had spent his entire working life helping the poor.


So much is about showing up, persisting, doing our best.   We bring our loaves and fish—whatever we have—and offer it for the service of God, via service to the neighbor.


-What miracles have you seen in your life—“slow” or otherwise?

-What are some ways you bring what you have to the Lord?

-Who offers example and inspiration in you Chistian life and service? ( I mention Fr. McKenna; below the Pope mentions his grandmother).


2. Last Week in Camden

Mary McCue—my mom, Rachel Royall, my goddaughter, and I concluded our vacation with a visit with DSW volunteer Raphaël Garagnon and his family in Annecy, France.   Raphaël, his three brothers, and parents were amazing, warm hosts.   This town is also the home of our saints: Francis de Sales and Jane de Chantal.   We got to pray at the shrines and to tour the region with its sparkling alpine lake, snow topped mountains, and a perfect medieval town.


Saturday back in the USA, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, adult leaders, and parents from South Jersey spend the morning serving in North Camden.   The group broke into four subgroups of 15 each and swept, cut, planted, engaged, and observed—in our alley, in the block around the parish school, and in Northgate Park.


Some of the scouts helped Mike Morgan, Ethan Stortz, Jesuit Volunteer, Joe Whittaker, and early arriving intern, Andrew Phillips, to create a recycled brick patio/basketball court behind the DSW house.   The backyard offers good outdoor space for volunteer groups and Holy Name Grade School graduates in the CASA youth program.



3. Upcoming Events

The first session of our Summer Internship Program began Sunday.   Community friends christened the new patio with a welcome picnic.   The interns are Molly Easton and Alex Meier, returning for a second year; Kelly Carr and Meg Stabler (along with Molly) grads of Walsingham Academy in Williamsburg, VA; and Andrew Phillips from Virginia Tech.


Thursday night Guadalupe Family Services has a fun fundraiser across the river on the Philly waterfront.   GFS is where Tim Gallagher works and is the agency that offers support in the Cathedral Parish school, CASA Program, and so much practical outreach in this community.



4. Links

I pass on a video of Pope Francis talking to people assembled in St. Peter’s Square.   He answers four questions put to him, including an explanation of what he means when he says the church must be poor and for the poor.    (If you click on the link, scroll down to the video.)


Secondly here is a Vatican Radio summary of another great, common sense, “gospel sense” talk from the pope:

Jesus rebukes the disciples who seek to remove children that people bring to the Lord to bless. “Jesus embraces them, kisses them, touches them, all of them. It tires Jesus and his disciples “want it to stop”. Jesus is indignant: “Jesus got angry, sometimes.” And he says: “Let them come to me, do not hinder them. For the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” 

“The faith of the People of God – observes the Pope – is a simple faith, a faith that is perhaps without much theology, but it has an inward theology that is not wrong, because the Spirit is behind it.” 

The Pope mentions Vatican I and Vatican II, where it is said that “the holy people of God … cannot err in matters of belief” (Lumen Gentium). And to explain this theological formulation he adds: “If you want to know who Mary is go to the theologian and he will tell you exactly who Mary is. But if you want to know how to love Mary go to the People of God who teach it better. 

“The people of God are always asking for something closer to Jesus, they are sometimes a bit ‘insistent in this. But it is the insistence of those who believe “:


“I remember once, coming out of the city of Salta, on the patronal feast, there was a humble lady who asked for a priest’s blessing. The priest said, ‘All right, but you were at the Mass’ and explained the whole theology of blessing in the church. You did well: ‘Ah, thank you father, yes father,’ said the woman. When the priest had gone, the woman turned to another priest: ‘Give me your blessing!’. All these words did not register with her, because she had another necessity: the need to be touched by the Lord. That is the faith that we always look for , this is the faith that brings the Holy Spirit. We must facilitate it, make it grow, help it grow. “


The Pope also mentioned the story of the blind man of Jericho, who was rebuked by the disciples because he cried to the Lord, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”


“The Gospel says that they didn’t want him to shout, they wanted him not to shout but he wanted to shout more, why? Because he had faith in Jesus! The Holy Spirit had put faith in his heart. And they said, ‘No, you cannot do this! You don’t shout to the Lord. Protocol does not allow it. And ‘the second Person of the Trinity! Look what you do… ‘as if they were saying that, right?”


“Think of the good Christians, with good will, we think about the parish secretary, a secretary of the parish … ‘Good evening, good morning, the two of us – boyfriend and girlfriend – we want to get married’. And instead of saying, ‘That’s great!’. They say, ‘Oh, well, have a seat. If you want the Mass, it costs a lot … ‘. This, instead of receiving a good welcome- It is a good thing to get married! ‘- But instead they get this response:’ Do you have the certificate of baptism, all right … ‘. And they find a closed door. When this Christian and that Christian has the ability to open a door, thanking God for this fact of a new marriage … We are many times controllers of faith, instead of becoming facilitators of the faith of the people.”


And “there is always a temptation to try and take possession of the Lord.


“Think about a single mother who goes to church, in the parish and to the secretary she says: ‘I want my child baptized’. And then this Christian, this Christian says: ‘No, you cannot because you’re not married!’. But look, this girl who had the courage to carry her pregnancy and not to return her son to the sender [i.e. didn’t have an abortion], what is it? A closed door! This is not zeal! It is far from the Lord! It does not open doors! And so when we are on this street, have this attitude, we do not do good to people, the people, the People of God, but Jesus instituted the seven sacraments with this attitude and we are establishing the eighth: the sacrament of pastoral customs!”


“Jesus is indignant when he sees these things” – said the Pope – because those who suffer are “his faithful people, the people that he loves so much”


“We think today of Jesus, who always wants us all to be closer to Him, we think of the Holy People of God, a simple people, who want to get closer to Jesus and we think of so many Christians of goodwill who are wrong and that instead of opening a door they close the door of goodwill … So we ask the Lord that all those who come to the Church find the doors open, find the doors open, open to meet this love of Jesus. We ask this grace.”



Please remember in your prayers all our kids, homeless parishioners, volunteers, addicts and dealers.   Especially pray for Bill, Juan, Adam, Peaches, Steve, Gary, Versace.


Thank you,   Mike McCue, OSFS


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