Aside from the story of the birth of Christ in the Gospels, the one Christmas story that has been re-told over and over is Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
Countless movies and television specials have been made over the years – with George C. Scott, Patrick Stewart, Alister Sim, Michael Caine, Bill Murray, Jim Carrey, Reginald Owen, and Scrooge McDuck all playing the role of Ebenezer.
One might also argue that movies like “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “Christmas Vacation” are variations on the classic tale, but from the point of view of the Bob Cratchit character.
What makes Dickens’ story so timeless is its message of reconciliation, penance, and forgiveness – and that we are all invited, no matter how sinful we have been, to the redemption we find in the love and peace of Christ. A story like “A Christmas Carol” challenges us to look more deeply at our lives and work towards being the best version of whoever God created us to be.
It can be easy for each of us, especially singles, to say “bah humbug” to Christmas. It’s a hectic, overstressed, and dark (quite literally) time of year.
And with all the focus on diamond rings and romantic songs, the holidays can also seem quite lonely and depressing. We might agree with Scrooge for a moment and wish all this Christmas stuff would just go away.
But our past, present, and future might have something different in store for us.
Looking at the past, we might look back on those friends and family we once knew and cherished, but who now are all but forgotten. Who from our past has drifted from our lives? How can we reconnect with them in the New Year ahead?
Looking at the present, who or what are we taking for granted? Do we pray as much as we should? Do we give to the poor, help the needy, or work towards social causes? Are we ignoring those around us because they annoy us or have angered us? How can we be more open and more aware of the world around us – and make a difference right here and right now?
Looking to the future, what is in store for us? What vocation is God calling us to – and are we open and willing to answer that call? How are our actions now preparing us for the potential future that lies ahead? And are there things we need to change to make for a better future, whatever that might be?
Christmas and New Year’s are great occasions to spend time in prayer on these three aspects – the past, the present, and the future.
Like Scrooge, may we all emerge from that dark night of the soul a more Gospel-oriented, more loving, more compassionate, and more focused Catholic.
And may God bless us, everyone.