May these reflections give you some thought as to how our favorite movies/specials teach us about God entering the World.
A Viewing of The Muppet’s Christmas Carol:
the Path of Conversion and the Suffering Christ
Broadly considered, this childhood classic reveals a story of conversion embodied through the person of Ebenezer Scrooge, who meets the suffering witness of Christ. Scrooge is obstinate and cold toward others: a soul apart from Grace. But when Marley & Marley appear, Scrooge is confronted by the reality of sin: by our actions, we are either blessed or damned for eternity. Despairing, he immediately encounters the light of grace. The female Ghost of Christmas Past, an image of the Blessed Mother, arrives in bright light, announcing that she has come “for your salvation.” She reminds Scrooge of his joys, his sorrows, and the love he once had and refused, out of greed, in his fiancée. This memory begins his conversion.
The fruits of this beginning are embodied by Ghost of Christmas Present. Scrooge begins to laugh and sing. While visiting the Cratchits, he meets the person of Christ through the suffering and loving Tiny Tim. Scrooge has a newfound empathy, which leads to compassion. The pains of Tiny Tim are the more moving because of his innocence and love, as the innocent Jesus who loved, though suffered immensely. The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come arrives as death, re-proposing the Marley & Marley question to the converting Scrooge: will our lives end in life or damnation? Scrooge’s soul moves to contrition or a deep sorrow of heart for our sins before God. He begs the Ghost for time to change and resolves upon living rightly.
The next day he puts his conversion into action; the community rejoices. The last lines of the film ring out, “the love we found we carry with us, so we’re never quite alone.” While touched by Disney and secularism, the film brings this Catholic theme to bear: all conversion is a conversion to love, and suffering is its fundament. The sorrow-joy-contrition-love procession is God’s plan for us: that we sorrow over sin, rejoice over possible happiness, and experience contrition. Yet this procession, in life, and in The Muppet’s Christmas, is and must be precipitated by encountering the suffering Christ, the witness, and source of selfless love.