Friday, October 17, 2014

Trees Make A Difference

“Then God said, let the earth bring forth vegetation; every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree that bears fruit with its seed in it.  And so it happened: the earth brought forth every kind of plant that bears seed and every kind of fruit tree on earth that bears fruit with its seed in it.  God saw how good it was.  Evening came, and morning followed—the third day.”

Sometimes when I’m feeling overwhelmed with the difficulty of daily life I go sit beneath a tree and read through the creation accounts in order to remind myself of how good God really is.  Everything around us was made by Him and with that is love.  He saw how good it is, and we have the opportunity to see how good He is in his creation.

The creation story does have kind of a hierarchy though it seems with the progression of creation from light and water to vegetation to animals to man to woman.

“God created man in His image;
in the divine image He created them;
male and female He created them.”

As I am sure you are aware God thought we were pretty neat as well…even good-er than the trees.  But we made a mistake.  Man sinned.  He disobeyed God because he thought he knew better than God.  He really dropped the ball.  Out of the garden.  Now we have shame.  No eternal happiness forever.

But that isn’t the end of the story.  God had a plan, even before man was created.  This plan was going to use a creation from the third day, in order to bring about the salvation of mankind.  He needed to find the perfect victim though, in order to do atonement for the sins of all.

St. Bernard defines humility, “a virtue by which a man knowing himself as he truly is, abases himself.”

If you are unaware of what abases means, like I was, the google machine says ‘to make little’, so in this context, it is referring to a man making himself small.

I ask you to picture a tree growing in an empty garden, growing, growing, growing.  This tree begins to die, and another sprouts near the original stump from the seeds born from the first tree.  As this takes place life all around it has changed.  People have moved.  Babies born.  Children educated.  Sin committed.  Forgiveness begged for.  The simple trees keep growing, dying, bearing fruit for those lives around it.

This my dear brothers and sisters is a part of the plan God had to destroy death by death.  God himself, the God who at the beginning of time created light and water and vegetation and birds and mankind, became man.  No other victim would suffice because man was stained with original sin.  God needed a pure sacrifice and He chose to do this by becoming a sacrifice.  This is the epitome of humility in and of itself.  God, who was perfectly happy in Himself, took on flesh in order to forgive us of our sins.  He was born a baby to a human virgin, and in this needed to learn to talk, to walk, to face difficulties.  He lived a life of rejection from those around Him, the same people He keeps in existence with His thoughts of love.

He was condemned to death.  The creator of the universe was condemned to death.

How did man separate himself from God’s love originally?  A tree. He ate of the one tree that God had forbidden Him to out of pride and unholy curiosity.

How did God return the possibility for man of union with Him forever?  A tree.  God was nailed to the object that man used to condemn himself.

Our Lord added insult to His own injury in hopes that it would cause radical conversion in our hearts to accept entrance into this heavenly kingdom’s gates that were just busted down by love.

Humility.

He did that for you.  He did that for me.

When we sin, we are rejecting the invitation to live in paradise with the One who sees us as very good, just in who we are.

Days drag.  Friendships fade.  Families fight.

No matter how rough a day is, no matter how many struggles are found in friendships and families, God still became a baby.  For you.  God still was beaten.  For you.  God was nailed to a tree that He created.  For you.  Why?  So you can live with Him forever in love.