There’s an incomprehensible quality to empathy that only the soul can grasp. It carries us to a place where we forget ourselves and take up the cross of another to shoulder their burden of suffering for a while. In that holy realm where we embody another’s grief, those afflictions are transformed in the light of hope that we bring to bear upon them. Empathy is a journey through brokenness to wholeness of spirit.
Infinitely more incomprehensible is the mystery of the Incarnation, where the Son of God left the mansions of heaven for the warmth of a mother’s womb so he could walk the road of empathy with the ones he created. It is unfathomable to recognize that our Savior chose to breathe our air, extend his hands to heal the sick of body and soul, shed tears of sorrow, and sweat drops of blood for those he loved. Yet his life of love serves as the means of our salvation and the greatest call to love others in his name.
How can spiritual directors and Christian counselors—who are responsible for being the Church’s empathetic healers—benefit from a deeper understanding of empathy and incarnational theology? And how can the lessons of the story of salvation help us guide souls through the trials of this life toward a more authentic and profound experience of self-examination and healing? …