Blessed be the olive tree at Christmas time

Alfonso Pascale

An ancient Italian legend that originated in Abruzzo, among the peasants, recounts an episode of the flight into Egypt of the Sacred Family. According to the story, in an attempt to escape from Herod’s soldiers, Mary climbed up an olive tree, so as to hide among its branches. At that time however, these plants shed their leaves in wintertime and the few leaves left would have been so small as to make it impossible to conceal anything or anybody.

So what did the plant do? Because the upper surface of its leaves is glossy, it turned them all towards the sun so as to reflect its rays and blind whoever gazed at its canopy. Hence the soldiers, dazzled by the light, failed to see the Virgin Mary. She then thanked the plant with these words: “Blessed be the olive tree, may its leaves never fall”.

What should we wish for at Christmas time? That we might find an olive tree on our road, among the branches of which we may find some solace from the fear that paralyzes and suffocates our lives. Fear is like a mist that becomes thicker and thicker, and prevents us from having the necessary clarity of thought to face a moment of crisis.
But better still, we should wish for awareness, and realize that we must react. Hence, by turning the leaves of the olive tree, like in the old Italian story, we could lift the fog and look towards the future with reasonable hope.

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