By Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians are called to be like a brightly adorned Christmas tree and shine forth Christ’s brilliant light to the world, Pope Benedict XVI said.
The faithful must show with their “good fruits” of living a Christian life that the world was “truly visited and redeemed by the Lord,” he told representatives of Belgium’s Wallonia region who donated the 98-foot spruce tree adorning St. Peter’s Square.
The pope held an audience Dec. 18 at the Vatican with a large group of civil and religious leaders from the Belgian region — a region that produces up to 4 million Christmas trees each year and exports 80 percent of them.
The pope said that of the multitude of trees in the forest, one was chosen to stand majestically in St. Peter’s Square, be lit and “covered with glittering decorations, which are like marvelous fruit.”
“Leaving behind its dark dress for a sparkling glow, (the tree) is transformed, it becomes the bearer of a light that is not its own but gives witness to the true light that comes to this world,” he said.
The tree, like the shepherds, keeps watch in the dark night, “illuminated by the angels’ message” of Jesus’ birth, said the pope.
“The destiny of this tree is also comparable to ours, we who are called to bear good fruits in order to show the world that it has been truly visited and redeemed by the Lord,” he said.
Together with the Nativity scene, the tree shows “the presence of a great mystery” that took place in the poor and simple birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem, he said.
The 90-year-old tree was trimmed with yellow and white lights and some 2,000 gold and silver ornaments.
In addition to donating the towering tree for the square, the delegation from Wallonia also gave 40 smaller Christmas trees to decorate various rooms and offices throughout Vatican City.
The tree was lighted by a Belgian boy and girl during an early evening ceremony in St. Peter’s Square with Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, president of the commission governing Vatican City State. A choir from Belgium sang carols and the Vatican police band played the anthems of the Vatican, Belgium and Wallonia.
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