27 May 2014
Sixth Week of Easter
A project of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales,
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 Matthew 28:16-20
The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
The Ben Franklin Bridge is a beautiful part of the scenery in Camden. The soaring 1919 suspension bridge rises on the riverfront above our neighborhood’s row houses. You can walk or jog across the bridge—-or stand on the pedestrian walkway—-and see for miles around. You see “the big picture” —-activity on the river, skyscrapers and colonial steeples in Philly, the whole of Camden. You cannot see trash everywhere, or drug dealing, or abandoned houses. In one way the high vantage point distorts the view—-since decay and dysfunction are big parts of Camden—but, at the same time, it reveals a dream with beauty and potential.
Frequently high places, mountain tops, hill country, are the setting for important moments in the Bible. Above daily duties, distractions and usual sights on the ground, they offer a clear place to encounter God. In the gospel for Ascension Day, Jesus bids farewell to his friends on a mountain top in Galilee. They come with worship and with doubt, but Jesus spreads the whole world out before them to go and share the good news.
Encounter with God makes it possible to bring the gospel down to earth—to a child at recess whose dad is in jail, to a woman standing in traffic collecting change for her next heroin purchase, to a 24 year old or a 54 year old sharing in the Last Stop AA/NA meeting.
The first generation who passed on the memory of Jesus did not leave out unflattering facts, “they worshiped, but they doubted.” Jesus asked those apostles to see beyond doubt and earth-bound constraints to see as he does. His vision comes from a point higher than even a bridge or mountain: from heaven, from God. He tells the disciples to go to the ends of the earth in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. They soar while keeping rooted to reality—-but reality transformed by faith and the kindness and compassion, the justice and peace that comes with it.
-Do you have “mountain top” experiences you can draw on in living with hope and faith?
-Does prayer or Church provide encounter with God for you?
-What unflatering facts would you rather leave out of the stroy of your life?
2. Last Week in Camden
Tuesday students from Father Judge High School were here for service and reflection. Saturday Bernard Camancho lead a group of Boy Scouts from South Jersey in a morning of service The boys, their troop leaders and fathers worked in Northgate Park.
Meanwhile in Wilmington, DE, a group of Sallies student helped paint and clear out junk from the old convent at Christ Our King Parish there.
3. This Week
Tuesday afternoon Kevin Reid, a 1995 Ireton graduate, will arrive for a summer of service as a DSW volunteer. A social worker and poet, Kevin will bring skill and vision to work here.
The final group of Fr. Judge freshmen for this school year will be here on Wednesday. Students from Cristo Rey will be here early Saturday for a morning of service.
It seems that Pope Francis has an ability to bring a freshness to all his encounters. His recent pilgrimage to the Middle East had several such moments. The conflict in the Holy Land has to be the longest running, unending crisis in the media for decades. The New York Times Monday reports one Israeli journalist, David Horovitz, who describes himself “as cynical about everything.” Talking about Pope Francis’ invitation to the Israeli and the Palestinian leaders to come to his home in Rome: “the summit could challenge many Israelis’ concern that ‘the Palestinian public has not come to terms with the legitimacy of the Jewish state.’ ‘It would be naïve to think that the sight of Peres, Abbas, and the pope together is going to change the world,’ ‘If you look at it in political terms, O.K., insignificant, but if you look at it as an effort to foster a different mindset among Israelis and Palestinians, psychologically, I think this is very positive.”
The blog Whispers in the Loggia has texts, raw video, and comment on various events and talks during the recent visit. I think Pope Francis’ poetic mediation at Yad Vashem, the Jerusalem Holocaust memorial, stands out. So does his May 26 homily at the Garden of Gethsamene. His words have particular power—-so do his gesture and actions.
Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS