How the Christmas Tree Evangelizes

Pope Reflects on Symbolic Significance of Decoration

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The Christmas tree -- with its journey from a dark forest to the brilliance of decorative lights -- represents every Christian, called to share the message that the Light of the world has become man.



This was a comparison made by Benedict XVI today when he addressed a delegation from Belgium, which provided the Christmas tree for St. Peter's Square this year.

"In the forest," the Holy Father said, "the trees are close together and each one of them contributes to making the forest a shadowy, sometimes dark, place."

"But here," he continued, "chosen from among this multitude, the majestic tree that you offered us is today lit up and covered with brilliant decorations that are like so many marvelous fruits."

"Leaving aside its dark garments for a brilliant explosion, it has been transfigured, becoming a beacon of light that is not its own, but rather gives testimony to the true Light that comes to this world," the Pope suggested.

He compared the tree's destiny with that of the shepherds, who "keeping watch in the darkness of the night, are illumined by the message of the angels."

"The luck of this tree is also comparable to our own, we who are called to give good fruits to manifest that the world has truly been visited and rescued by the Lord," the Pontiff continued.

Child-God

Benedict XVI said the Christmas tree, in its spot beside the Nativity scene, "shows in its own way the presence of the great mystery present in the simple and poor site of Bethlehem."

"To the inhabitants of Rome, to all the pilgrims, to all who will go to St. Peter's Square by way of the televisions of the whole world, it proclaims the coming of the Son of God."

"Through it," he told the Belgian pilgrims, "the sun of your lands and the faith of the Christian communities of your region greet the Child-God, he who has come to make new all things and to call all creatures, from the smallest to the greatest, to enter into the mystery of Redemption and be united to it."

The tree is decorated in gold and white -- the colors of the Vatican.

It is a fir from the Ardennes forest of Belgium.  The 30-meter (about 100-foot) tree is 100 years old, has a 7-meter (22-foot) diameter and weighs 14 tons.

The tree was to be felled, along with others of the same forest, to allow for the growth of other nearby trees and plants.