EMPATHY is one of the most powerful forces for good in the world. For every saint who is naturally generous, there are many others who need a prompt of some kind. This Christmas, there will be much greater sympathy for Ukrainians without heat and power because there are many people in the UK afraid to use the heating available to them for fear of the cost. Shared suffering is a greater bond than shared affluence. God, the creator and sustainer of humankind, needed no lesson in empathy. The incarnation was not an exercise in bringing God closer to humans but humans closer to God. By being born as a helpless infant, destined for a cruel death, God became an object for our pity and empathy — a rich theological truth that it can take a succession of Christmases to comprehend. Because this is a time of austerity rather than despite it, we hope to see exceptional generosity this Christmas.