As we journey through life we gather experiences, old certainties may disappear, rocks that we had come to rely on may literally be taken from us. These experiences, particularly of loss, can enlarge the heart’s capacity for kindness, for showing and receiving mercy and compassion.
A heart made vulnerable by experiences of loss, made fragile by suffering, is a heart that can also become more compassionate, kinder, and able to show itself, greater mercy and love.
It is one of the paradoxes of human experiences. A heart untouched by its own vulnerability will have little patience or compassion for those who have sunk deep into the heart’s vulnerability.
As we journey through life then we have an opportunity to grow in compassion and mercy, to see differently and respond differently to those around us. Once where we might have blamed or accused, we now get alongside and see it from their perspective.
The Christian story is a story of the vulnerability and tenderness of God; a God who does not blame or accuse, but who gets alongside. The loving kindness of God is revealed in the Incarnation, in the image of the Virgin and Child; so tender, so vulnerable, a little child. Jesus is a child of promise, vulnerable to the cruel machinations of the politics of power, represented in the Christmas story by Herod. Loving kindness has no defences, yet it can transform the world. A baby has no power, no agenda, it is nothing. In being nothing, God confronts us with his acceptance of weakness, which does not control or condemn. It is a weak God whose heart is large who comes in tenderness to love and encourage us.
At Christmas we are invited to accept the loving kindness of God, the kindness and mercy as of a mother who cradles, nurtures and protects her child. At Christmas we are invited to enlarge our hearts, to get alongside our neighbour and to receive the loving and compassionate mercy of our God.