19 September 2011
25th Week of Ordinary Time
A project of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales in Camden, NJ,
De Sales 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 20:1-16
Are you envious because I am generous? Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.
“God’s ways are not our ways,” and this Sunday’s parable makes that very clear. That is about the only thing that is clear in a parable like this one; it seems strange and unfair. Of course, the Lord used these weird, poetic, dense stories to get listeners to think and wonder, to engage with his message. The Lord does not simply tell us what to do, he asks us to ponder and to make free choices. And we do this in community, benefitting from the wisdom of fellow believers—present and past.
One clear insight from this story is that envy is a very human experience—looking at qualities, skills, physical characteristics, advantages, status, or accomplishments others have—and wishing we had them. Very human, but very much a waste of valuable energy. God’s way is to see us exactly as we are, spending no energy wishing for some other version of you or me to labor in the vineyard so to speak—to live, love and work in this world. He wants us, as we are.
-Can you identify any envy that distracts you or wastes energy?
-Do you have ways to benefit from the community of faith, insights present and past?
-Are you able to wonder and puzzle about God’s ways in a context of the faith that God is good and almighty?
2. Last Week in Camden
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday students from Salesianum School in Wilmington, DE, were here. All juniors and sophomores will be coming here by religion class for service and retreat. Ken Hallaman (of Barbie and Ken) works with and speaks to each junior group.
A group of students from Bishop Ireton arrived Thursday afternoon. Rain forced us indoors on Thursday, but Friday was a beautiful day to work outside and to visit “tent city.” New Visions’ Kevin Moran gave us food and toiletry kits for the residents. One women, Gina, spoke with students about her life —in front of the tent where her husband sat just inside on their air mattress reading the Philadelphia Inquirer. No matter how many times I visit this encampment, it never stops seeming surreal that people live this way in the United States. On one positive note, Gina was very happy to report that she and Al—and her cats—will be moving soon to a house in North Camden.
3. Upcoming Events
I attend a meeting of service group directors from the greater Philly / Camden area Monday. And an adult group from upstate, western New York arrives for a long weekend Thursday afternoon.
Mike Morgan has declared this week JUST GET IT DONE WEEK (—yes, “all caps!” ) to finally complete all the various improvement and repair projects on the DSW house. We will report on the progress next week.
We invite readers to check out the DSW website www.oblates.org/dsw and to read essays on a range of topics from the Peace & Justice Blog. Also check out Rachel Allen’s and Mike Morgan’s links; check them out: Facebook http://www.facebook.com/DeSalesServiceWorks. Camden experience blog by Mike Morgan- http://camdenchronicles.wordpress.com/.
God bless you, Mike McCue, OSFS