Families are an essential part of being human, so if God is going to become fully human, a humanity completely united with divinity, He must become a part of a family with history. Jesus entered into our lives by being born with an extended family that was unique, messy and dysfunctional in certain ways. How much we ALL can relate.
The genealogy of Jesus includes foreigners and prostitutes. People who clearly sinned and were far from perfect are listed in his family tree. Once again, we all can relate. What makes Christmas so difficult for so many of us is that families are frequently portrayed as happy and glowing. And we compare, the first huge mistake.
Whenever we compare our families with others, usually our family falls far from the ideal depictions in movies and commercials. I am reading A Christmas Carol for the umpteenth time because Scrooge was rooted in a very difficult family that struggled with reconciliation and acceptance. His father was far from perfect, even abusive to his children, including Ebenezer.
Scrooge had a deeply lonely childhood of being excluded from joy and warmth. And as a young man, he fell in love, and began to experience a loving relationship that couldn’t take root in life. His heart was closed, hard, slowly shaped by greed. The painful effects of his family’s dysfunction clearly shaped his humanity.
But by experiences his past in all its beauty and ugliness, his present in all its loneliness and alienation, and his future which allowed him to confront what will happen if something doesn’t change.
Change and transformation are at the heart of this beautiful story. It reminds us that life is far from sentiment and perfection. It can be very painful and disillusioning. Forgiveness and acceptance of who we are and the honest truth of our families is the road to redemption. Scrooge becomes a changed man who must live in a whole different manner, letting go of bitterness, forgiving others beginning with himself and completely changing his relation with work.
Read or reread A Christmas Carol, and if you allow it’s message to sink in, you will be challenged in your own life situation, a challenge that will place you on that Road to Salvation, with Scrooge as a wonderful guide who knows just what you are feeling.