57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son.

58Her neighbours and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.

“Mercy” is a beautiful word. It derives from the Latin root merx which means “merchandise.” The same Latin word forms the root of our English word “commerce” which is a form of exchange.

So, “mercy” is an exchange.

elizabeth-bore-son“Her neighbours” recognize that Elizabeth has entered into an exchange with “the Lord.” She has given herself to the energy flow of love that is the true nature of all existence. By stepping into this stream of love, Elizabeth has become fruitful and borne a son. She has become, for “her neighbours and relatives”, a source of rejoicing.

This exchange is the nature of all life. It is not that I give something in order to receive a reward in return. Rather, life always circulates with the energy of giving and receiving.

We give and receive gifts at this time of year, not because we hope to find lasting happiness in the gifts themselves. We exchange gifts at Christmas because giving and receiving is our true nature. We fulfill our deepest human identity in the exchange of giving and receiving.

No matter how we might conceive of God, if we stop and open our heart we know that we are all the recipients of the gratuitous outpouring of life. In the Christian tradition we call that outpouring energy of life “God.” We say that we see this outpouring fully embodied in the person of Jesus.

It is this reality that touched the lives of Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah.

Mercy touches my life whenever I enter the divine exchange by acknowledging the blessings of my life and allowing those blessings to bear fruit in my life.

How do I see the gratuitous blessings of God poured into my life?

How do I see gratitude bearing fruit in my life?