I remember a clever Jesse Tree that my Mom made when I was growing up. My favorite ornament (representing Adam and Eve) was a little plastic apple core that had once been on a child’s play necklace. There was also a Noah’s ark, Jacob’s ladder, Moses’ burning bush, and Joseph’s coat of many colors, as well as symbols for Ruth, Samuel, David, etc. I really liked it, but there was one problem.
I was always wondering, “What does this have to do with Christmas?”
I understood the symbols for Mary and Joseph, because you can’t have Christmas without them. And even Elizabeth and Zechariah, the parents of John the Baptist, whom we hear about in the Gospel reading today—I think I understood why they were there.
But the others? I couldn’t see the connection.
Well, as you probably know or can guess, the Jesse Tree is all about Salvation History, which is the story of how God worked through the history of humanity, starting with Adam and Eve, to bring about the fulfillment of his promise: salvation in Jesus. The various characters are part of that story. Each one is a link, a part of the way God worked out his plan, step by step, person by person, through thousands of years, patiently working toward the defining moment of history—the coming of Jesus.
But Salvation History is not all in the past. God works a personal salvation history for each person he creates. Step by step, moment by moment. It might be hard to see that there is a plan, though. So many moments and people and events in our lives might seem to us to have no connection whatsoever with God, holiness, or heaven. But he uses everything in our lives to bring us closer and closer to himself, because he wants us to be with him forever in heaven.
God’s power and love conquer every block to his plan. He specializes in using unlikely means to achieve it. Just look at the way Jesus came—a baby in a stable.
This Christmas, let’s try to let go of our fear and put all our questions and troubles in his hands. Better yet, let’s put our whole life in his hands. That’s what he is waiting for—that’s why he came.
by Sister Grace Dateno, FSP