The Christmas tree -- with its journey from a dark forest to the brilliance of decorative lights -- represents every Christian, called to share the message that the Light of the world has become man.
This was a comparison made by Benedict XVI today when he addressed a delegation from Belgium, which provided the Christmas tree for St. Peter's Square this year.
"In the forest," the Holy Father said, "the trees are close together and each one of them contributes to making the forest a shadowy, sometimes dark, place."
"But here," he continued, "chosen from among this multitude, the majestic tree that you offered us is today lit up and covered with brilliant decorations that are like so many marvelous fruits."
"Leaving aside its dark garments for a brilliant explosion, it has been transfigured, becoming a beacon of light that is not its own, but rather gives testimony to the true Light that comes to this world," the Pope suggested.
He compared the tree's destiny with that of the shepherds, who "keeping watch in the darkness of the night, are illumined by the message of the angels."
"The luck of this tree is also comparable to our own, we who are called to give good fruits to manifest that the world has truly been visited and rescued by the Lord," the Pontiff continued.
Christians have always sanctified pagan signs and symbols, the evergreen tree is an obvious one.
I remember reading somewhere that in the middle ages in Germany at Christmastide evergreen trees were brought into churches and hung with apples as a sign of the Tree of Life, later the apples were gilded and later still replaced by gilded glass balls. I like that symbolism.
I remember as a child visiting an old German women who decorated her Christmas tree with glass balls painted with the images of the figures from the Jesse tree, it was surmounted, not by an angel but an image of Our Lady