12 Rise up, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand;
   do not forget the oppressed.

13 Why do the wicked renounce God,
   and say in their hearts, ‘You will not call us to account’?

14 But you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief,
   that you may take it into your hands;
the helpless commit themselves to you;
   you have been the helper of the orphan.

HP might have benefited in his spiritual life from a familiarity with the New Testament. His attitude towards “the wicked” might have been helped by hearing Paul proclaim,

all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

Perhaps HP might have been sobered a little by hearing Jesus’ injunction to his followers to,

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)

Surely, such an exalted vision might have caused HP to pause a moment and reflect upon the reality of his own shortcomings.

I see that I live often far below the call of perfection that is embodied in the challenge to live like my “heavenly Father.” The sad truth of my life is that I am seldom selfless or deeply compassionate and fully understanding of those upon whom I sit in judgment. I am often petty, vindictive, jealous, small-minded and conflicted in my loyalties.

But HP really did not need to look any further than his own Hebrew spiritual tradition to be remind of the shattered reality of the human condition. The prophet Isaiah thundered from his prophetic vision:

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

HP could not have viewed himself as the only person on earth exonerated from this woeful judgement. There is no human being who has ever lived who cannot count himself among the company of the “helpless.” And, it is the very recognition of just how “helpless” I am that enables me to open to the help “from above” that is always available when I am willing to see honestly the reality of my condition.

What are the forces I see at work in my life that keep me from seeing how far short I fall of the beauty and light to which I am called?

Lord, make me honest about my failings and help me to know that, as grievous as they may be, they do not define me.