“IS THAT YOUR HEART?” (Jn 1:1-5, 9-14): 25 December 2007 (Christmas Day, Tuesday)
Some years ago I chanced upon “Another Chance” on TV, a music video I never forgot. Two reasons: First, it used a vaguely familiar song whose title I couldn’t remember. I later found out why. The song was a remix based on the first verse of the 1982 Toto hit ballad “I Won’t Hold You Back.” But thanks to the electronic and energized “make-over” done by well-known house DJ Roger Sanchez (also known as the S Man), except for the recurring verse, the song was now hardly recognizable.
The second reason why the music video has been unforgettable is the story it tells. Set in New York City, the story opens showing a girl with a big heart–literally! It’s almost as big as she. She lugs this heart everywhere she goes–a grocery store, a cab, the subway–and wherever she is, she tries to be friendly, but she gets the expected reaction: at best indifference and amusement, but also judgmental looks, raised eyebrows, and even outright rejection. After all, who goes around New York City–or anywhere else in the world, for that matter–carrying a gigantic heart for all the world to see?
Dejected, her heart shrinks although it’s still pretty sizeable by the usual standards. A man passes her and asks, “Is that your heart?” They strike up a friendship, and go out for drinks. She beams as he walks her home, and there’s talk of a second date. The next day, she waits outside her door and since she’s happy, her heart has understandably expanded to its usual size. The man turns the corner only to stop on his tracks because he sees her with her size XL heart–and he walks away. The girl continues to wait, but we can guess that pretty soon she will be heartbroken and her heart will once again begin to shrink.
But what does she do the next day? She is back outdoors with her giant heart (it has recovered from its nth rejection), offering it once again to every person who passes her by.
“Is that your heart?” That’s the question I want to ask the Lord today, Christmas Day. Is that really how big God’s heart is? And is he, like the girl in the video, really so eager to be close to us despite our indifference and rejection?
We know the answer to these questions. When you think about it, the story in the video may well be a parable about Christmas, and the girl in the story may well be a Christ figure. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about, after all? God comes into our world with his gigantic heart, a heart brimming with love, and like the girl in the story, he so wants to offer this love to us. The only problem is, ours is a world where having such a big heart is, as the man tells the girl in the video, “scary.” If you wear your heart on your sleeve–especially if it’s size XL–you’re going to be considered pretty weird. People are going to ignore you, ridicule you, and because you’re vulnerable, you’re going to end up getting hurt. Unfortunately, ours is a world that doesn’t make room for people with big hearts.
But at Christmas the Christ Child comes to this world of ours precisely to offer us his big heart–even if he knows it will inevitably end up getting broken. And of course his heart does get broken, but like the girl in the story, the Lord doesn’t let the rejection and hurt stop him from continuing to offer his love. That’s what it means to love unconditionally–without condition, regardless of our response or lack of response to it.
Today, Christmas day, we recall the birth of God’s only Son, who became one of us to show us just how big God’s heart is and how unconditional his love is. He invites us today to expand our hearts and to love others as unconditionally as we can. So let’s ask ourselves: “How big is our heart? How willing am I to offer love unconditionally–without condition, regardless of people’s response to me?” To love unconditionally is to love like God, to have a heart as big as his.
Note: I have uploaded the music video “Another Chance” if you want to watch it. Here is the one verse from Toto’s “I Won’t Hold You Back” that recurs all throughout the video.
If I had another chance tonight,
I’d try to tell you that the things we had were right.