Service Matters – Fourth Week of Lent

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
  •  Links


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.



4. Links

Read past  reflections at the archives of Service Matters.

God bless you,

Mike McCue, OSFS

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment