Vincent Van Gogh. The Good Samaritan. Kröller-Müller Museum.
The broken heart is the place where the mystery of God’s love seeks entry. God addresses my fragile heart through the gentle language of mercy and compassion that is relational and deeply, deeply intimate. All of my pain, grief, loss, and confusion, all that I have done and failed to do, is embraced by forgiveness so gentle that I can only surrender and allow myself to be held in the fertile soil of God’s tender heart.
God’s compassionate suffering with us birthed the life of Christ among us. Knowing that with our finite understanding we could never grasp the enormity of His infinite love, God sent His son, our brother, Jesus, to manifest it. Jesus willingly stepped down from the throne to take on humble flesh and walk with us in our broken world. When he saw crowds of people, Jesus’ heart was deeply moved with compassion, because they seemed weary and helpless, like wandering sheep without a shepherd.1 When Mary fell at His feet weeping over the loss of her brother and his dear friend, Lazarus, Jesus shuddered with emotion and was deeply moved with tenderness and compassion—tears streamed down His face.2. He met a funeral procession carrying the body of a young man to the cemetery. The boy was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow. When the Lord saw the grieving mother, his heart broke for her. With great tenderness, he said to her, “Please don’t cry.” Then he stepped up to the coffin and touched it, calling her son back to life.3 When we see Jesus’ heart, we see God’s heart—for God is Christ-like.
Jesus showed how far Love was willing to go by accepting the vilest humility and torment—the cross. His resurrection opened the glorious possibility of new life in deep friendship with the great heart of our ever-near Shepherd, Who is endlessly calling and searching for us who have all lost our way.
Jesus, come be with me in my passion. I accept the way of fertile suffering and will allow the process of purification to etch its way through my hardened heart, so I can feel and hold the pain of others in Love’s great strength and compassion. I want to step down from my pain-filled selfhood so that your compassionate life can be birthed in me—a life that is toward and for the other. Open in me the capacity to be in relationship, to receive, to be touched, and to relate to a world beyond myself. Expand that place in the center of my being that stretches to love and be loved, to know and be known, to be free and set others free—that place that moves towards purity, simplicity, and innocence.
Spirit of Christ, awaken the awareness in me that God is the life of us all and that we are one in God together. This possibility of oneness means blending my tears with the world’s in a compassionate way that heals and creates community. Free me to open my life to others in generous willingness to be known—to tell my story of suffering, and to listen to theirs. “I share your wounded place. Your tears run down my face too. Your suffering aches inside my heart.” I relive their pain and, by reliving theirs, I relive my own and God’s. I become a place of nourishment, quietly holding their pain and healing up to the great heart of God, sharing their sufferings in the holy act of compassion.