The first Christmas tree
Sunday Gospel Luke 3: 1-6
Christmas trees come in many shapes, sizes and colors. But I came upon a story of the first Christmas tree which totally changed how I perceived Christmas trees to be. In one forest there was one little tree surrounded by tall and big trees. Then one day there was a huge commotion and noise among the trees of the forest. It felt very small. The little tree asked one tall tree what was happening. The tall tree explained that shepherds out on the hill tops are telling strange stories, the air is filled with strange music and a bright star appears in the horizon over a small manger. There are also angels with the shepherds. They are waiting for the birth of a child who will be the king among all the people. The little tree could only wish he could see it all. Then after a great choir of angels sang and it filled the air with joy. The little baby boy was born. The little tree could only wish he could participate in this story unfolding.
Years pass and the little tree grew taller and stronger. One day there was a commotion among the other trees. Someone is coming. It was the king who by now is a man. He came close to the tree and place his hands upon it. The tree noticed that the king’s eyes were filled with love but his heart was heavy. After that the king left and went away. But many times the king would return and rest under the tree. Many times men and women would come with him and called him Jesus. He listened every time Jesus spoke but could not understand what he was saying. Once again, the tree wanted to be part of Jesus’ story.
One night Jesus came along to the forest. Jesus was weeping. He prayed and the tree listened. There was silence in the forest. Then angry voices started to come closer and closer. The men chopped the tree with axes. The tree fell to the ground. The men dragged the tree away. Then the tree could feel that the men were nailing a person onto it. It felt ugly and painful. The tree could hear a crowd shouting angry words at the person. The next day, the sun rose and the earth trembled under it. The tree knew that God’s love has changed everything. This Jesus who came as a baby on that beautiful night, a man like no other has just changed the world with his selfless sacrifice and the love of God.
The little tree who from the start wanted to be part of the story suddenly realized now it is part of this story. It became the most important tree ever. It became part of the greatest gift to us. It became the cross on which Jesus, our savior died.
Every time you think of the tree, remember God’s gift to the world. The cross became the first Christmas tree.
I wanted to share this story to show us that the story of Christmas is part of the greater love story we have with God. Why did God chose to become human?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that the Word became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciling us with God, who “loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins, so that thus we might know God’s love, to be our model of holiness, and to make us “partakers of the divine nature.” (CCC 457-460)
We are already part of this story. Like the tree, we are also small. Pope Francis in one of his many homilies said that the birth of Christ gives rise to the way in which we reflect on the tenderness of God “who looks upon us with eyes full of love, who accepts our poverty, God who is in love with our smallness.” He continued to ask, “How do we welcome the tenderness of God?” Instead of seeking God, Pope Francis said that we should ask whether we allow ourselves to be found, and loved, by God.
This Advent open your hearts to Jesus. Allow his tender little hands to touch your broken heart and heal it.