Today’s Readings for the Daily Office
Psalm 41, 52 (Morning)
Psalm 44 (Evening)
Let’s Help Each Other Out
As I prepare to compose this Morning Reflection, I am walking along Sixth Avenue in New York City on the brutally cold morning of January 12. New York, as many people know, has a reputation (undeserved in my estimation) for being populated by busy, brusque, sometimes rude inhabitants. And, like many big cities, New York these days is also populated by hundreds of folks, usually men, who hold out a paper cup to passers-by and ask for spare change.
In a hurry to get to my destination, I come up behind a middle-aged man, his own attire suggesting he lives on these cold streets. He is smoking a cigarette. He seems to be about halfway done with it when he spies the fellow holding out the cup to him. Not having any change to spare, he hands the cigarette to the other man, who gratefully accepts the smoke and finishes it.
Now I don’t want to condone cigarette smoking, but I admit to being moved by this small display of generosity, and I was prompted by it to think a bit about Saint Vincent of Saragossa, who is commemorated today by both the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion. Vincent, a 3rd-century deacon, was Spain’s first Christian martyr. He was commissioned by Bishop Valerius to preach throughout Spain, but since Valerius had a serious speech impediment, Vincent acted as his spokesman. When the Emperor Diocletian began to persecute Christians, Vincent stood up for Valerius and, as result, was brutally tortured, killed, and thrown into the sea.
Kindness, generosity, sacrifice—all these thoughts swirl in my head on that cold morning. And I begin to recite a wonderful line from Christina Rossetti’s poem that we sing in the hymn, “In the Bleak Midwinter”: “What can I give Him, poor as I am?” As the caring man on Sixth Avenue and Saint Vincent did, I hope we give kindness, generosity, and sacrifice in varying degrees and many acts.
Written by David Jolliffe
David is honored to serve as Senior Warden and to sing in the choir at St. Paul’s.