Like a Tree
(6th Ordinary Sunday: Jeremiah 17:5-8; 1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Luke 6:17, 20-26)
Twice today we encounter the image of a fruit tree planted by a source of water. Jeremiah uses it to describe those who trust in the Lord; the Psalm applies it to those who delight in meditating on God’s law. Both paint a painful image of those who place their trust and delight elsewhere.
At first glance, Jesus seems to use the same language, but it is clear that “woe to you” is very different from a curse. It is a warning. We find a similar concern at times in the context of La Salette. What some people read as Mary’s threats are more correctly understood as warnings.
The theme of the tree can be applied to all of today’s readings, and to La Salette as well. The point of Jesus’ beatitudes and woes, and of Mary’s promises and warnings, is to invite us to place our trust in God and not in ourselves.
Even the second reading, in which Paul insists on the truth of the resurrection of the body, connects to the same theme. As Greeks, the Corinthians prided themselves on their philosophy, which had no concept of bodily life after death. Paul expresses a sort of woe when he writes, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins.”
Returning to the idea of the tree planted by water, remember that water is a strong symbol at La Salette. Mary came to help her people have deep roots and unfading green leaves and abundant fruit.
Besides the physical stream, the Beautiful Lady reminds us of another stream that is always a source of life. “Do you say your prayers well, my children?… You should say them well, at night and in the morning.” If she had been thinking of Psalm 1, she might have asked, “Do you delight in the law of the Lord?… You should meditate on his law day and night.”
As you know, plants need not only water but light as well. Prayer can be likened also to photosynthesis, enabling us to take in the light of Christ, which will work together with the water so that we may be strong in our faith and live in abiding hope.
For storms will surely come, dark and difficult days, but blessed are we if we remain united to our Risen Lord and to his Blessed Mother.
Fr. René Butler, M.S. and Wayne Vanasse