I remember as a teenager my parents took me to the Redwood Forest in California. I had seen many trees before but these were trees. Massive trees. Trees so tall that you couldn’t see the top of them. Trunks so wide that they cut tunnels in them so cars could drive through.
These trees have been there for tens of thousands of years. Their roots spread for miles under the earth. They have experienced every kind of weather imaginable, from sweltering heat to freezing cold, from pouring rain to years of drought, lightening, earthquakes, wind storms, you name it. These trees have survived it all.
And today Scripture readings are telling us: be the tree.
Here’s a few things we can learn from our forest friends:
Big power comes in small packages. The Gospel tells us that the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. It’s the smallest of all seeds and yet it blossoms into a large tree. All the trees of the redwood forest started with a single seed. The same is true with our faith. The kingdom of God is so powerful that it only needs a small opportunity to bring about massive change. You could spend 23 hours and 45 minutes of your day sleeping, eating, working, playing… but if you could just give 15 minutes a day to God your life will become totally transformed.
The power is God’s, not ours. The farmer doesn’t cause the seed to grow, he just provides conditions that are favorable to it’s growth. The same is true for us. Look at your life—are you providing favorable conditions for your faith to grow? Are you giving Him time in prayer? Are you staying away from the weeds that can pollute your heart and mind?
Prayer and justice, the fruit for the seeds. The psalm cries out, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing your praise!” It goes on to proclaim that, “The just one shall flourish… like a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow.” The fruits of our tree are giving praise to the Lord and living justly. Check your branches. Do you see those fruits in your own life?
We must be “planted in the house of the Lord.” There’s a saying that the three most important things in real estate are location, location, and location. A solitary tree doesn’t make a forest and is more susceptible to be destroyed by the forces of nature. We aren’t called to go this road alone, we need a family—a forest—of faithful friends that can help us grow. In other words, we need the Church!
A majestic tree, planted in the house of the Lord, towering to the heavens with deep roots and fruit that grows in and out of season. That’s the image God has for us today. That’s what He is inviting us to be. He provides the seed and the growth, but we have to give Him the time and the right environment to make it happen.