Of all the stories in the news this Christmas period, the news of the student who died after being raped in New Dehli, and that of the church organist who died after an attack on his way to church on Christmas eve, must surely rate as among the most harrowing and disturbing. I wrote earlier of the impossible message of peace on Earth, goodwill towards men, and perhaps it is to temper this message that straight after Christmas we have Holy Innocents and St Stephen's day; human cruelty and atrocity continues to flourish in spite of Christmas.
To attack another human being, someone simply going about their business and living their life, and to so to end their life in a violent and traumatic way bringing untold sadness to their friends and relatives, creates a sense of revulsion in most people. We might wonder what the message of the Incarnation- of God with us- says to the perpetrators of evil as well as to its victims. I believe that the Incarnation dignifies humanity. God becoming human speaks to us of a God who sees in human kind, in spite of its fallen nature, a place where the divine can reside and where love can transform our tendency to seek to have power over others, to the point sometimes of brutality and hatred.
What of those who perpetrate acts of cruelty against others? They certainly lack empathy, they lack a sense of others as human, but more than this I think they lack a sense of self, a sense of themselves as human beings and of the dignity inherent in this. My hope for this coming year is that we might have a sense of the dignity of being human and to see in all others and in ourselves whatever it is that God sees in us that makes Him love us so much that He chose to do the unthinkable and incomprehensible and make his dwelling with us.