24 June 2013
Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Feast of the Birth of St. John the Baptist
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 Luke 9:51-62
When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,
and he sent messengers ahead of him.
On the way they entered a Samaritan village
to prepare for his reception there,
but they would not welcome him
because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.
When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven
to consume them?”
Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.
You have heard this before from this blog: there is much more to Camden, NJ, than the headlines of poverty, drugs, violence, and dysfunction. I saw this very starkly last Wednesday when Nancy called for a priest because her 92 year old father had just died.
I arrived at the house; Pedro’s body lay in a hospital bed in the converted dining room. His wife, brother, a son, and one daughter sat together in chairs pulled close to the bed. Neighbors, family and friends gathered there in the dining room and in the adjoining living room and out on the front porch. We prayed in English and in Spanish entrusting him to our loving God.
I stayed for a while as people came bringing food, offering condolence, paying their respects. The different generations gathered there spoke Spanish, or English, or a mix of both. A three year old napped on a living room couch; a young mother held a baby. Family pictures decorated the walls of the spotless house that has been home to the family for 50 some years—wholesome, supportive, warm.
Their row house stands about midway on the block. But back at the corner at 4th Street, North Camden’s parallel universe breaks into the picture: dealers man the intersection selling heroin, crack, pills, wet,—the full selection—poisoning their customers, their neighborhood, their own lives. This is a city of stark contrasts.
In this gospel snapshot we can observe Jesus resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem to face what we know lies ahead for him there. Determined to follow the Father’s will, he rebukes his tempters, James and John, who assume his mission will be part of the the same old human story of violence and retribution. “Want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” they ask Jesus.
No, sinners are not rejected or destroyed in this Lord’s kingdom. Jesus brings good news, a new way.
-In this community choices stand openly in stark contrast. Are there similar choices in your environment, perhaps more subtle?
-Are there things that tempt your resolve to follow the way of Christ?
-What does it mean to return a blessing for a curse in your life?
2. Last Week in Camden
Four young guys from Germany arrived last Sunday for their two week stay. Part of a program that began after World War II, they do volunteer service sponsored by Lutheran and Jewish congregations in Philadelphia and Camden.
Al La Rosa, medical student, DSW friend, and former Jesuit Volunteer Corps member, has made himself right at home on State Street. He is working for a month and a half at his old JVC placement, St. Luke’s Catholic Medical Center.
Saturday our now annual Little League opening day parade took to the streets lead by Camden High School’s marching band. The warm, sunny weather provided a perfect setting for this happy procession. The story of North Camden Little League is very photogenic and offers a balanced picture of this neighborhood’s greatness, ordinariness, and tragedy. Learn about one documentary project now underway.
3. Upcoming Events
The second session of DSW’s Summer Internship Program will take place July 7 – 28. You are very welcome, contact DSW for more information.
This week all Oblates from our two American provinces will gather at DeSales University for fellowship, discussion, learning. Our four presenters will lead reflection on the gift of the Second Vatican Council to the Church of our time—50 years after the actual meeting of the world’s bishops in Rome.
Pope Francis clearly is a man who has assimilated the insights and values of that universal council. Check out his work from last week.
Alex, one of the inters has a great blog; check it out: http://thecamden5.wordpress.com/
Have a good week,
Fr. Mike McCue, OSFS