Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Jesus Christ, the Apple-tree




I recently discovered this photograph of an apple that looks as if it has been hand-painted. I was taught as a boy that God is all-knowing and all powerful. I like to add: God is all-imagination.

I'm thinking of the carol we might hear now that we've stepped into December: Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree. The poem verses may have been intended as a carol, though it seems to have been around a good while before appearing in church hymnals. And though the lyrics make no reference to Christ's birth (Mary and Joseph, angels and shepherds) somehow it has found its way into the repertoire of more familiar Christmas carols. 


Jesus Christ, the Apple Tree


The tree of life my soul hath seen
Laden with fruit and always green
The tree of life my soul hath seen
Laden with fruit and always green
The trees of nature fruitless be
Compared with Christ the apple tree.

His beauty doth all things excel
By faith I know but ne'er can tell
His beauty doth all things excel
By faith I know but ne'er can tell
The glory which I now can see
In Jesus Christ the apple tree.

For happiness I long have sought
And pleasure dearly I have bought
For happiness I long have sought
And pleasure dearly I have bought
I missed of all but now I see
'Tis found in Christ the apple tree.

I'm weary with my former toil
here I will sit and rest awhile
I'm weary with my former toil
Here I will sit and rest while
Under the shadow I will be
Of Jesus Christ the apple tree.

This fruit does make my soul to thrive
It keeps my dying faith alive
This fruit does make my soul to thrive
It keeps my dying faith alive
Which makes my soul in haste to be
With Jesus Christ the apple tree.





An apple is spherical, like a little globe. And for the delight apples give us, they are images of total joy, joy even to laughter. Doesn't the world need laughter: kind laughter, the laughter of delight? Joy to the World is another carol we'll be hearing and singing. And if joy for the world is an angel-task, it's all the more a human one. 

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the Catholics were known to be the world's joy-restorers. We've got our work cut out for us, a work that needs to begin in-house. Pope Francis has said as much in speaking recently to the seventeen new cardinals in Rome.


"How many situations of uncertainty and suffering are sown by this growing animosity between peoples, between us! Yes, between us, within our communities, our priests, our meetings. The virus of polarization and animosity permeates our way of thinking, feeling and acting. We are not immune to this and we need to take care lest such attitudes find a place in our hearts, because this would be contrary to the richness and universality of the church..."

In heraldry (the symbols of flags and coats of arms) apples are symbols of rejuvenation and fullness of life.
 Rejuvenation comes from the Latin words re = again and juvenis = young. Imagine that - Catholics as the ones who rejuvenate or help the world to feel young and alive again! Jesus said:  "I have come that they may have life - life in all its fullness." John 10:10 


Oh Jesus, make us young again, 
young at heart,
for all the world, Jesus!
Fill us with delight,
and awe and wonder
before everything that is beautiful,
 good and true. 







8 comments:

  1. Yes, we should be joy restorers. Bucket fillers rather than bucket tippers. Amen Father!

    ReplyDelete
  2. So happy for you, that God has used you to bring this enchanting post to us. In these times of great challenges for me. It has renewed the source for hope and great joy, Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour. I shall enjoy this lovely song, while I eat my crispy apple.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I"m happy for YOU - for this sense of renewed hope and joy. Thoroughly enjoying your apple, your cup of tea, that's spiritual living.

      Delete
  3. It is nice to see the apple portrayed as a positive symbol for in religion it is often viewed as a temptation. The Latin word for apple tree, malus so similar to the Latin for evil, malum indeed leads us to this conclusion. The Adam's Apple named so because it symbolizes the apple caught in Adam's throat. You teach us to look to the bright side, the light of Christ. It helps my days to seem less bleak and more fulfilled. Grateful to you as always.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is that where Adam's Apple comes from? the bit of apple stuck in poor Adam's throat! My goodness. And the Genesis story doesn't even say it was an apple - just 'fruit". Spoiling a good thing. Sometimes we suck all the joy out of religion. The poor nuns who taught me in school wore about 40 pounds of clothes and couldn't turn their heads left or right because they wore this architectural headgear which encased their upper body in wide, starched linen boards, to remind them of being in their casket! Can you imagine that? Poor mind that thought THAT up. And how could sister have enjoyed being with a class of delightful 7 year olds if she was supposed to be thinking about being in her coffin? God forgive the Church where it's destroyed the joy of living - God's first and greatest gift to us!

      Delete
  4. Jesus the apple tree shades and protects us. His fruit nourishes us. What more can we ask for? Beautiful hymn Father Stephen. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    ReplyDelete
  5. One of my very favorite carols along with Chesterton's "The World's Desire." I came to Catholicism largely (I see now) through the influence of the arts - literature, music, paintings like Holman Hunt's "The Light of the World." There was something completely new (to me) and uniquely refreshing, yes, about each piece that guided me along the way. While this song isn't RC per se, it carries the flavor of that time for me - the joy and wonder I couldn't find anywhere else.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yes, I understand. God has entered our world in Christ revealing that all we create that's beautiful and good and true, has tremendous value. And Catholicism "gets" that we have souls, and out of our souls wonders are created. Bless you in the Advent time, Sarah.

    ReplyDelete