11 March 2013
Fourth Week of Lent
St. Ængus of Clonenagh
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
1. Service Word John 8
“Let the one among you who is without sin
be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one,
beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her,
“Woman, where are they?
Has no one condemned you?”
She replied, “No one, sir.”
Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you.
Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
This scene tells us so much about Jesus.
First, “Let the one without sin throw the first stone,” has to be one of the all-time best one-liners. Jesus displays such presence of mind even surrounded by people determined to trip him up. What he says brings truth to the situation, so that even the hostile mob around him can’t persist in their negative plan. For the crowd this woman caught in adultery is just a prop to use to hurt him. But, even in this tense confrontation, the Lord never looses sight of the fact that she is a human being. He treats her with respect and compassion.
A woman’s life is on the line, yet Jesus does not yell or try to grab her and run out of town. He calmly speaks truth aimed at the hearts of his adversaries. And he writes on the ground giving them time to let reason of what he said sink in. The Lord seems to believe that the individuals in this crowd have a goodness that even the mob mentality, the anger, envy, or tribalism—or whatever else motivates the confrontation—cannot totally deaden.
In the recent NBC, Brian Williams report about Camden referenced below, the anchor and our police chief, Scott Thompson, drive around the city. At one point they stop a young guy, Tyler, who like the woman in the gospel gets his sin exposed for all the world to see. “Roll up your sleeve,” the police chief tells him. Amid the tattoos on his forearm are fresh needle marks. Chief Thompson counsels him to return to his suburban home away from trouble.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Scott Thompson will make a point to find Tyler off camera to talk further. One way or another, the way forward for anyone has to build on solid truth and is encouraged by respect.
2. Last Week in Camden
The James Madison and Rivier University groups finished up their alternative spring breaks. Thursday students from Walsingham Academy in Williamsburg, VA, had five strong days of service. We even had one day with Salesianum guys, Walsingham and JMU all working together—in snow showers. It was great. Friday afternoon Ken, Barbie and I traveled to Reston, VA, for the “Live Jesus” event where we met up with many friends and supporters on Saturday.
NBC’s Brian Williams reported on our community in two videos: What’s the Matter with Camden? and America’s Invincible City Brought to Its Knees by Poverty. Naturally they focus on the dramatic and tragic, and there is no escaping that there is a lot of that here. If I were to fault the reporting, I have to say it does not properly represent all the good that goes on—or all the ordinary living. But we can be glad for the attention given our city’s structural problems.
Sunday the Cathedral Parish honored people who volunteer and who make our good works possible. We are grateful!
3. Upcoming Events
Monday, young women from Visitation Academy will serve here for the day. Tuesday a friend of Tim Gallagher from St. Louis University’s Aquinas Center will lead a group for a morning visit. Another Salesianum homeroom comes Wednesday. Students from Bishop Ireton High School arrive Thursday for their service stay.
Read past reflections at the archives of Service Matters.
God bless you,
Mike McCue, OSFS