For he shall save the lives of the poor,
and the needy who are helpless.
He will have pity on the weak 
and save the lives of the poor.
                                   Psalm 71 
.    .    .

 It seems to me to be no accident that this Psalm is set for Epiphany together with the passage from Isaiah 60: ‘Arise, shine…for your light has come’. That’s the big news story of the day: the light that enlightens every human being has come into the world, and all the nations (the wise men being the pioneers) will come to see Him. And this–saving the lives of the poor–is what He has come to do.

I am reminded most frequently by my son, who is 8, that this is what it’s all about. His spiritual life is anchored in care for the homeless poor. It amazes me to hear his prayers and see the concern reflected in his face when we talk about such things. A year or so ago, he explained that he was going to write lots of books, in order to sell them and make money. What did he intend to do with the money? Give it to the homeless. He has a big soul for a little boy, a tender heart and a certainty about the possibility of making a difference. Just yesterday I reminded him of one of the loveliest of his prayers: he wanted to pray ‘for all those who don’t have anyone to pray for them’. He had forgotten this prayer, I think, because he turned to me and said, ‘but they do. They have us’.

May it ever be so.

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