Samantha was cuddling the doll of the baby Jesus and gently rocking it to sleep in her arms. “Sleep little Jesus, sleep…,” she whispered a childish lullaby.
“Sam,” I interrupted her. “You’re going to make me sleep with that sweet dreamy song.”
“I’m singing it for Jesus before I put him back in the manger,” she said, giving the doll a long kiss, and pressing the baby face gently on her right cheek. Then she carefully placed the Baby Jesus on the hay.
“That’s really nice, Sam,” I said. “You can be sure that Baby Jesus will be very happy with the warm love from your heart.”
“He must feel so cold and hungry,” she said, “…and he’s so cute, cuddly and soft!”
I was speechless before her simple but sincere prayer, and I felt an inner shame for having forgotten this capacity to pour out my heart to the Child as Samantha did. In spite of this, this divine mystery continues to attract every person who seeks the truth and longs to abide by it: this is Emmanuel! God with us!
As I thought more about Samantha’s prayer before the Manger, I was struck by her last words: ‘He’s so cute, cuddly and soft!’ I realized that they express what God has become for man, so that we can truly embrace Him, rock Him in our arms and sing lullabies for Him.
Our God has gone to such a debilitated condition, so that we could find strength in possessing Him. If we ever wonder why, the answer would be: because God has a soft spot in His heart for man. And this soft spot is expressed to and for us through our Lord Jesus Christ, who was perfect God and perfect man.
So much did God love the world and man that ‘He sent His only begotten son’ to save us. And He did something more. In order to save us, He became like us in everything except sin. It’s so wonderful to think how God has a soft spot for our nature, that He couldn’t resist becoming like man, experiencing man and interacting with men.
There can be no other explanation for this except that of love. A divine love so powerful yet hidden within the frailty of human nature. God’s soft spot is not only revealed through His Incarnation, but also in every detail of His humanity when He constantly gives in to man during His public life.
His miracles, parables, teachings and even admonition against the stubbornness of the Pharisees and the Scribes reveal His soft heart. It was almost like He couldn’t say no, to the faith-filled petitions of the blind, the paralyze, the deaf and dumb and the dying.
Although Jesus’ mission was not confined to a form of universal philanthropy, He did not disregard warm human gestures of cordiality, affection, understanding and even forgiveness for his enemies. It was this ‘softness’ in Christ, that constantly won over His disciples, to trust in Him and return even after having abandoned Him.
Perhaps, the epitome of our Lord’s soft spot is shown when He became vulnerable even unto death upon the wood of the Cross. It was upon this altar of love that Jesus revealed just how ‘weak’ He was, even to the slightest, but sincerest prayer of every human being.
There in Calvary, Christ was flanked by two thieves. One felt entitled to demand a very tempting request: “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” It was, however, the prayer of the other that moved Jesus’ heart. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Our Lord’s consoling and enviable reply to this man’s conversion was, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” Pope Francis says, “Jesus speaks only a word of forgiveness, not of condemnation; whenever anyone finds the courage to ask for this forgiveness, the Lord does not let such a petition go unheard. (Homily, Mass of Closing of the Year of Faith, 3)”
Moreover, the Holy Father adds, “Jesus’ promise to the good thief gives us great hope: it tells us that God’s grace is always greater than the prayer which sought it. The Lord always grants more, he is so generous, he always gives more than what he has been asked: you ask him to remember you, and he brings you into his kingdom! (Ibid.)”
When we are moved to see how our Lord will never shun our moments of conversion, should we not be more determined to also have a soft spot in our hearts for Jesus? Any moment, and especially Advent, is a season to develop this soft spot in our hearts for God since He continues to have it for us.
May we therefore learn to always nurture a soft spot for Jesus in our hearts. This is done when we readily give ourselves –despite tiredness, illness or some trials– to prayer, sacrifice, work, serving our neighbors, etc. And we must never count the costs these efforts require, because in the end they make us more vulnerable, more soft to assimilate the love of Jesus in our hearts.
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