An interesting reflection by the Holy Father on the lighting up of the thirty-meter Belgian fir tree at the Vatican. Taking the image of transfiguration a bit further, I often reflect on the plants cut and used for liturgy. Each of them sacrifice their lives in a garden or from a tree for the sake of a certain transfiguration for liturgy. The same for grain and vine, too.
Once I overheard a friend explain to one of her parishioners why she used real flowers. The questioner wondered about the waste when frugality would suggest buying the plastic forms that last.
It’s the notion of sacrifice, my friend said. We give our best for liturgy. We sacrifice from our gardens of beauty and from the life we cultivate.
It’s really true for us believers. Pope Benedict’s reflection goes further, of course. After we shine and bear the fruit of faith, we also share the fate of the tree. Our life is not our own. No longer rooted, we are at the point in which we are dependent on God for nourishment. Eventually, we dry out, we are stripped bare. In the case of this year’s Vatican tree, it will be trimmed of branches and fashioned into wooden sculptures. And back in the forest, I assume that new seedlings will take the place of the old and grown and develop as the last generation did.