Service Matters – Last Week in Ordinary Time

22 November 2010

Feast of Christ the King

Last Week in Ordinary Time



A project of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in Camden, NJ,

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1. Service Word  Luke 23:35-43

[Some of] the rulers sneered at Jesus and said,

“He saved others, let him save himself

if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.”

Even the soldiers jeered at him.

as they approached to offer him wine they called out,

“If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself.”

Above him there was an inscription that read,

“This is the King of the Jews.”

Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying,

“Are you not the Christ?  Save yourself and us.”

The other, rebuking him, said in reply,

“Have you no fear of God,

for you are subject to the same condemnation?

And indeed, we have been condemned justly,

for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes,

but this man has done nothing criminal.”

Then he said,

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

He replied to him,

“Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”


This scene from the Luke’s account of the Lord’s passion might seem the least likely image to choose for the feast of Christ the King.   The feast is all about the power and glory of God, right now and in absolute fulfillment in the “kingdom come.”   This gospel scene invites us to reflect on Jesus on the cross—alone, condemned, hungry, naked, having hit bottom, failed, defeated, disrespected, dismissed, dieing.   But this is exactly where to go to learn about God’s power.


The phrase used to mock the Lord, “He saved others; let him save himself,” carries  insight and irony.   Because, as he did in his day-to-day life and service, now at this moment of greatest trial on the cross, Jesus is still saving others.  He doesn’t “save himself” as the on lookers visualize it, but he saves the world by laying down his life in absolute fidelity to us.


We can look at the interaction with the “good thief.”  Even in this situation, Jesus listens and offers faith.   The man who clearly is a believer, addresses him, “Jesus.”   He doesn’t perceive a need to use flattering titles; instead he uses the most powerful title, the name of Jesus.  Despite all appearances, the good thief trusts the power and goodness of God, made present in Jesus.

Where can you see the power and providence of God in your life?

What keeps you faithful and true to yourself in times of particular trial?

What does that in the day-to-day of ordinary times?


2. Last Week in Camden

Students from Bishop Ireton High School were here for a service retreat.  The group was lead by principal Tim Hamer, back for his third trip.  They did great work and had great discussions lead on the first evening by Tim Gallagher and then by Ken Holloman (of Ken and Barbie) on the concluding evening.  The first afternoon, part of the group had to share a typical experience of the poor.   The students were all set to help distribute food bags and turkeys.  The food bags were ready to go.  But the turkey delivery set for 4:00, did not happen until 6:00. The Ireton volunteers waited along with our people—things beyond their control—basically patient and good-natured.

Another Ireton group used wire to seal up the chain-link fence of a nearby back yard used by addicts.  They made a sign for the fence with a hopeful message on it.   At the end of their stay, the whole group got a reality check when we went into the alley for a group picture in front of the sign.   Two drug users had found another way into the yard through impossibly small gap at the gate.  Our efforts don’t stop the evil here like magic, but little things add up.


The parish celebrated the Puerto Rican feast of Nuestra Senora de la Providencia on Sunday.  Members of Teens, Inc., a neighborhood youth group from the Chestnut Hill section of Philly joined us for Mass, fiesta and service in North Camden.  They painted over graffiti and took up where the Ireton volunteers left off, sealing up that gate with wire.


Congratulations to DSW volunteer Mike Morgan who successfully ran the Philadelphia Marathon Sunday!


3. Upcoming Events.

Happy Thanksgiving.   Thank you for all that you do for us—DSW, the Oblates, the needy in Camden—support and encouragement.   Thanks for reading Service Matters!


4. Peace and Justice Blog    Check out the Oblate Justice and Peace Blog.

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