Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Case of the Missing Tree
The manger scene outside St. Aloysius Church in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, wasn't much different from other displays that Christmas Eve some years ago. Life-size figures depicted the Holy Family, and the farm animals bordered the stable. And one especially beautiful pine tree plus a few small trees framed the scene in living green.
On Christmas morning parishioners coming to early Mass stopped at the tableau for a moment. The children especially crowded close to look at the Baby. Suddenly someone out, "What happened to the big tree?"
Sure enough, during the night their beautiful, evergreen tree had disappeared. At first there was consternation, then there was anger. Who would steal a tree from the church?
A parishioner sought out Father Thomas Monahan, St. Aloysius's compassionate pastor, whose constant care of the poor had become a byword, even though he worked in secret. The anger of the people quickly turned to understanding - Father "Toby" had indeed been the culprit.
Late on Christmas Eve, Father Toby had heard of a poor family - not even of his own faith - who had no Christmas tree. The stores were all closed and so he had given the family the big tree from the manger scene - not the smallest or scrawniest but the most beautiful.
The empty space near the manger suddenly because beautiful - representing another gift of love on Christmas Day.
~ Lillian Gardner
May we all look about us for those whom we could similarly bless this Christmas Season.