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How to be like God this Christmas? Tender, close, and compassionate

Julian Paparella

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Photo by Francisco Xavier Franco on Cathopic.
Christmas says a lot about what God is really like. We can sometimes be tempted to think of God as a harsh judge or annoying referee. But the way that God comes to us reveals who He truly is.
At Bethlehem, God comes to us humbly, with love beyond all telling, in the silence of the night. He is not a ruthless tyrant like King Herod, but a newborn baby who enters our world quietly. God makes Himself vulnerable, taking on our human condition in a state of poverty.
Pope Francis often speaks about how the style of God is "tenderness, closeness, and compassion." These three key words show us the heart of God, which is on full display in the event of Christmas — Jesus’ coming to us.

So how can we be tender, close, and compassionate like God this Christmas?

It starts with first receiving God’s tenderness, closeness, and compassion in our own lives, in our own experiences.
This can happen in tender moments of quiet prayer by the crèche or nativity scene, in our own home, or in a nearby church. We can see how Jesus comes tenderly to save us, embrace us with love and dispel all our darkness.
We realize God’s closeness to us when we look back on all the ups and downs of this past year. It dawns on us that He was there with us every step of the way, even in those moments when we weren’t aware of Him. He is always near to us, above all in those moments when we need Him the most. God is especially close to all those who suffer — ourselves and others. How can we be close to those who are suffering this Christmas?
Ultimately, God comes at Christmas in order to save us. Jesus is the merciful Saviour who reveals the Father’s compassion for all His children. Even when we stray from Him, God remains faithful to us. He is a good Father who never tires of forgiving us. Christmas is an opportunity to let God gaze upon us with compassion, and let His forgiveness pass through us to others. When we realize how generously God forgives us, we can find the grace to live compassionately with others, even with people we may find it difficult to get along with.
When we taste God’s tenderness, closeness, and compassion for ourselves, we want others to experience it as well. Being loved by Him makes us want to share the same love with others, like a fire that has been lit in our hearts. God in us is a light to radiate outwards, to share His warmth with those around us.
How is God inviting you to experience His tenderness, closeness, and compassion with others this Christmas?
In what ways is Christ calling you to be tender, close, and compassionate with others at this holy time and throughout the new year?
Who are those people whose hearts could be warmed by God’s tenderness, closeness, and compassion at work in you and me?
Come, Lord Jesus, visit us with Your tender love. Show us Your closeness and teach us Your compassion. Be tender, close, and compassionate in us for others. Amen.

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