“HOME ALONE” AT CHRISTMAS: HOMILY FOR THE CHRISTMAS DAY. Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem PhD

 

ImageThe movie “Home Alone” is a 1990 Christmas comedy series of four films. The first two series were written and produced by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus. The story is a about an 8-year old boy named Kevin (acted by Macaulay Culkin) who is incidentally left behind while his family travels to France for Christmas. One important fact in the plot is that Kevin actually wished that he had no family because of the punishments he received for his insubordination. On the day of the planned journey to France, an electrical fault alters the alarm system and waking up late, Kevin’s family hastily rushed to the airport with another family that was doing the journey with them. Kevin stays in the basement where he is locked up as a form of punishment.

Kevin wakes up to realize that he is home alone, hence his wish came true. He was overjoyed and began to do all the things that he was forbidden to do. He goes about eating junk and watching films beyond his age. He plays with his brother’s toy gun which he never had access to; he actually took charge of the house. Kevin’s joy at being alone suddenly turns sour with the appearance of two die hard burglars who are so proficient in sneaking into people’s houses to steal. With this new development Kevin is harassed, scared but resolute in his plan to fight the intruders especially with booby traps. At the end of the story Kevin succeeded in creating the condition that brought about the arrest and imprisonment of the burglars. In Home Alone 2 Kevin travels with the family for another Christmas holidays but got lost at the airport and mistakenly boards a plane to New York where he spends the Christmas again confronting the burglars who escaped from prison.

From my knowledge and experience Christmas is better celebrated in the company of other people especially one’s immediate family. That is actually the reason why some people travel from one part of the world to the other to join their families to celebrate the Christmas. Christmas is essentially a family-oriented celebration. It ushers in a time when families gather together from different locations and are inebriated with uncommon yuletide gusto. The Christmas festival essentially suggests, activates and celebrates togetherness, fellow feeling and community. The clearest example of this is the Holy Family of Nazareth during the birth of Jesus Christ and the flight to Egypt.

Beyond being with one’s family at Christmas, there is another form of communion that is essentially indispensable for us at Christmas. This communion explains and defines the celebration; a communion that underpins the reason for the season. I mean the communion with Jesus Christ whose birth we celebrate at Christmas. Like Kevin, some of us have always being home alone at Christmas. To be home alone in this context means being separated from the ideal purpose of the Christmas celebration. To be home alone means to be left in the basement of divine disconnection while others fly away with the object of the celebration. To be home alone at Christmas is to celebrate ourselves rather than celebrating Jesus Christ. To be home alone is to neglect the needy at Christmas. To be home alone is summarily to celebrate a “Christless Christmas!”

The air is now filled with the glamour of Christmas. There is this sudden “madness!” Everything seems to have the stamp and imprint of celebration because it is Christmas. New things have to be bought because it is Christmas. Prices of goods and services have to appreciate because it is Christmas. Lies have to be told, people have to be cheated, morality has to be immolated, prayers have to be abandoned; all these and more have to take place because it is Christmas. Incidentally those who operate from these angles end up being alone at Christmas. Our Lord Jesus Christ warned us in the gospel of John (15:5): “Cut off from me you can do nothing”. This directly tells us that without Christ in the context of our Christmas celebration we are alone and when we are alone we can do nothing. Doing nothing here means that our operational aptitude will lack divine substance and support. We will be wallowing in abject despair; running from pillar to post.

As we celebrate the Christmas let us have Jesus Christ as the focus of our celebration; let us bear in mind that the celebration in not ours but rather his. As we eat and make merry this Christmas let us acknowledge the fact that nearly one billion people all over the world will go to bed this Christmas day without food (the reason why I will eat only once later today in solidarity with the hungry at Christmas). As we wear our colourful and expensive clothes and other accessories let us remember that some people somewhere could make a big celebration out of our old clothes, shoes and other things. As we enjoy our beautifully decorated homes let us remember that many people are out there in squalors exposed to cold and heat as the Christmas celebration heightens. As we take our friends and children out to parks and other exotic places, let us remember that there are many children in orphanages and homes for the poor who would sit in there as the Christmas day comes and goes. As we power up ourselves for the celebration of Christmas in full health, let us remember that there are so many people in various hospitals lying down there on their sick beds as the Christmas day unfolds and recedes. As we move around today visiting families and friends let us remember that there are people in prison most of whom are suffering for crimes they did not commit and who will not have the privilege to move around as they are in chains!  

If we do not pay attention to the above details, then we will be home alone at Christmas. Christmas trees, lights and songs cannot give us the essential company we need; in fact they will soon become obsolete and needful of removing as the Christmas passes by. The family and friends with us at Christmas will sooner or later go back to their respective destinations and we shall be left alone again. It is only with Jesus Christ that we shall have lasting companionship at Christmas and after.

The experience of one of my friends makes a lot of sense here. This friend of mine was meant to travel to the United States of America for the first time. He was very happy to be among the few that were picked in his office in Nigeria to attend an international conference in the State of Florida. On their departure date he packed his bag with the things he bought for himself as well as for some relations he intended to visit after the conference. He was almost running late and needed someone to drop him at the airport in Abuja the capital city of Nigeria. I offered to drop him off. On reaching the parking lot at the airport it suddenly occurred to me to ask him if he had all he needed for the journey and he assured me that everything was in place. The answer did not satisfy me so I asked him further “Do you have your international passport with you?” At this question he froze and started a frantic search for his passport which also contains his visa to the United States. After turning his bags upside down it was obvious that he forgot his travelling documents including his ticket on the dining table in his house.

There was nobody in his house to bring them along and so we had to travel all the way back to his house to collect the documents. By the time we went through a heavy traffic to the airport the flight was set to leave; in fact he was hopelessly late for the journey and consequently he missed the flight that day and the next schedule available was in five days and the conference would end by that date. Like my friend we could have prepared everything and left the most essential for Christmas namely our hearts. There are so many people who will be preoccupied with cooking and its accessories and end up missing the Christmas Mass or worship as the case may apply. Actually Christmas means Mass of Christ. It is not Bonniemass or Johnnymass but Christmas. Let us give Jesus Christ our lord his day and in full; let us abide with him and not be left alone at Christmas.

Have for yourself a merry Christmas.

Fr. Bonnie.    

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