December 2005 - Volume 10, Issue 5
By Rev. Ray Petrucci
[I witnessed the miracle for myself on the morning of the feast of Saint Stephen. Arriving late for work, I prayed that somehow I would escape the severe reprimand that I knew awaited me. The cruelty and cold-heartedness of my employer, Ebenezer Scrooge, was legendary. Noting my tardiness, Mr. Scrooge summoned me into his office. With my heart firmly lodged in my throat, I entered and stood before his desk. Scrooge looked at me with his steel-cold eyes and with total disdain began his tirade. But he could not sustain the pretense. His appearance and manner become transformed by what only could be called - Christmas joy. After assuring me that he had not taken leave of his senses, but, on the contrary, had come to them, Mr. Scrooge brightened the dank surroundings with words of warmth and cheer. His desire to assist me and my family and to redress all past injustices overwhelmed me. Elated, yet still incredulous, I felt akin to the revivified Lazarus and not, as expected, to the martyred Stephen.]
Time has passed and Mr. Scrooge has more than fulfilled his promises. Strangely, I must confess that I am troubled. Why should the reclamation of Scrooge's soul seem unfair somehow? Why should his change of heart with its concomitant personal happiness and its momentous benefit for me unsettle me so? Certainly, I am not desirous of a return to the cruel and malicious actions of his previous state. So many years I have borne the brunt of his ill will and misanthropic behavior. I have suffered, my family has suffered, and, Lord knows, my Tim has suffered from Scrooge=s past tyrannies. But, now, it is different B all different. Every dream has come true and yet I am vexed still by nightmare.
Lord, forgive me. Flashing insight has provided me with the answer: anger. I am angry that Scrooge could be happy - be saved. After so many years of evil, is he to be redeemed by one night of grace? What reward am I to gain in bearing the cross of righteousness all of my life? I have struggled and done without and have placed unjust burdens upon the shoulders of my loved ones. Many times over the years, Scrooge has beckoned me to follow his way. All I had to do was to forsake the path of virtue. I could have possessed both station and wealth. I could have become a partner in the firm. I could have become a Scrooge. As is our custom, Mr. Scrooge and I shall share a Christmas bowl after work this day. We shall discuss, no doubt, what more he might do to help my family prosper and, especially, my son Tim. Perhaps, he will entrust to me the experiences of that Christmas Eve past and what revelations scooped his soul from hell. Was the passage precarious and unsure or was the way smooth and well lit? Surely, he must have had to face the full measure of his sins. What a terrifying accounting that must have been. The truth of his most malevolent past must have torn his heart and soul asunder. What human passions wrecked him so? What divine power resurrected him such?
My God, heal me. I knew so well the harsh, bitter exterior of the man, but I grasped so poorly the famished and frightened interior of that same man. On that most blessed and holy night, the naked soul of Scrooge stood before the agents of his Maker. All he had to show for his life was his position and his possessions and he had to stand before the One who cared nothing for any of them. How truly poor he must have felt. Yet, there was enough faith left in that battered soul to allow hope and love to shine into it and awaken it to a new life. What enduring and single-minded munificence does characterize the reformed Ebenezer Scrooge!
From such ponderings, I have come to a personal revelation. I have committed a grievous fault of my own. Blinded by self-pity and unchristian thought, I have forgotten the very reason that the Babe of Bethlehem came among us. Was it not to save the sinner, to reach out with love and mercy to the penitent? I must rejoice in the salvation of a wayward soul, even if it be at the eleventh hour. Have I not been saved by that same grace? How grateful I am that I have sought the presence of God throughout my days and how humbly thankful I am for whatever gifts I have been able to give because of that divine influence and what tortures of the spirit I have avoided. Thank you, Lord for saving Mr. Scrooge. Thank you, Lord for saving me.
Merry Christmas to all and God bless us everyone!
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