Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and THE CHRISTMAS CAROL-all of these are the literary masterpieces of one of the greatest English novelists, Charles Dickens.

The Christmas Carol--- the literary masterpiece depicted in many films—has many pertinent messages for Christmas now more than ever in a world in which God’s primacy has been challenged and man’s power and materialism dominate.

Ebenezer Scrooge, before arriving at his conversion, exemplifies the Capital Sin of Avarice which can be defined as a disordered desire for material possessions.  Scrooge presents a marked contrast with his employer Bob Cratchet who is seen as weak, but hard-working.

CONVERSION.   The conversion of Scrooge takes place upon his dream of past, present and future, but especially “future” in which he is taken to the cemetery to view his tombstone and future death.   The prospect of his mortality and death served as an atomic bomb to wake him up to the reality of what is truly important in life.   What then are the key messages from Dickens to the world and to each and every one of us individually?
1.    MATERIALISM.   Constantly there is the temptation and danger to place the material over the spiritual, the temporal over the eternal, the sensible and tangible over the mystical, the finite over the value of the infinite.

2.    MONEY AS GOD.  Scrooge’s God was his making money, saving money, hoarding money, counting money and burying himself in money. Instead of the inscription on the American currency, “In God we trust” it was instead, “In money we trust.”
3.     EXPLOITING AND USING THE PERSON AS AN OBJECT. Scrooge, being blinded to the glitter of his piles of money, could not see the innate value of the person.   His employee, Bob Cratchet, instead of being perceived as a human person created in the image and likeness of God, was viewed as a mere object or machine to be utilized to further his purpose and end all of life: to make more money and hoard it!   In modern America the false-philosophy of UTILITARIANISM is growing by leaps and bounds.   This philosophy expounded by the political philosophers of the 19th century, John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham, asserted that the person has innate value only inasmuch as he is economically productive.   Therefore a “Downs-child”, a handicapped person, a person on dialysis, an elderly person suffering from Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s have no inherent and intrinsic value, but are rather an economic burden to society. Why not discard them?   We call this today “Euthanasia”.   Pope John Paul II teaches us the contrary that being is more important than having and that doing flows from being!  Every individual has great value because he was created by a loving God for the purpose of serving God in this life and being happy with Him for all eternity.
4.     MEDITATION ON DEATH AND CONVERSION.   Only once Scrooge was visited by the reality of death by means of the dream and Marley who took him through three stages of time and his life--- past, present , and the future--- was Scrooge able to wake up to reality and recognize that which was of true and perennial value. Up to this point his life focused on money, accumulating, having, hoarding and exploiting people. Death!  Nobody escapes this ultimate reality!   He was taken to the cemetery and his tombstone with his name on it, his birth date and his death with a question mark?????  Recognizing the vanity of materialism now was the time to change immediately and drastically!
5.    GIVING WITHOUT COUNTING THE COST!   Awake and renewed by
the dream, Scrooge pulls the drapes, swings opened the windows and asks the boy walking below in the snow and with his sled if the big turkey in the market had been sold as of yet!  “No, sir!”  Scrooge, with holy abandon and true freedom, launches a sum of money out the window to the boy summoning him to purchase the Turkey and bring it to him as soon as possible.  This done, and a generous tip for the boy, Scrooge was ready to give generously to the one whom he had been most miserly to for many years--- his employee Bob Cratchet.   Giving generously can smash the chains of slavery to things. Indeed our possessions can possess us.
6.    FAMILY OVER THINGS.   Scrooge arrives at Bob Cratchet’s humble abode and knocks on the door.  At first fearful Cratchet wonders about the purpose of the visit, but to his great surprise it was a manifestation of his boss Ebenezer Scrooge’s total conversion.  Scrooge had not come to chastise, to exploit and try to   bleed Cratchet of more money but to give.  The turkey given, Merry Christmas wishes given, and a smile on his face--- these were the token gifts offered from Scrooge.  Never in his life would Cratchet have dreamed of such a radical conversion!

7.    TINY TIM.  The little paralytic son of Cratchet, Tiny Tim, would be the favorite of Scrooge.  They would bond as true friends. Scrooge from now on would cherish the Cratchet family, their friendship and warmth, more than all of the gold, and sliver and money of the entire world!   In a world in which the handicapped, the blind, the deaf and mute and the Downs-child is seen as a useless burden to society, the novel-movie Christmas Carol of Charles Dickens also teaches us the value of all people, rich and poor, healthy and sick, abled or disabled are precious in the eyes of their Creator.

CONCLUSION:EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE!     What are your values?  What is first in your hierarchy of values? Does the Christmas Carol speak to you?  Is there something of the Ebenezer Scrooge hidden in the inner recesses of your heart? Has the value of the “things” that surround you prevail over the persons that surround you? Is the shortness of life, the dream and ultimate reality of your death something that you often meditate upon? Are you willing to give of yourself knowing that there is more joy in giving than in receiving?