The first Christ­mas tree

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Front Page - BY: FR. KURT PALA kurtzion­[email protected]

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.

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