The Giving Tree — Tuesday, 8th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

Do you remember The Giving Tree, that very green childrens book by Shel Silverstein? It’s a story about a boy and the tree that loved him. When he is a boy, the tree gives him her leaves to play with and her apples to eat. However, when the boy becomes a young man he comes asking for money, so that he can buy things and have fun. Since money doesn’t grow on trees, she gives him her apples for him to sell. Time passes, and he comes back, this time asking for a house. The tree lets him cut off her branches so that he may build one. Later, much later, the boy returns again, but he is now a much older and sadder man.”I want a boat that will take me far away from here,” he says. “Can you give me a boat?” The tree offers her trunk and he takes it. He fashions a boat, and sails far away. After a long time, the boy returns, now a very tried and very old man. The tree is now just an old stump. He has taken everything, but she still gives. The story closes with these words: “‘Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.’ And the boy did. And the tree was happy.”

Now if The Giving Tree has always been one of your favorite books, that’s ok. If it has a special place in your heart, don’t let me or anybody take that from you. But, as for me, this book has always bothered the heck out of me. Even when I was a kid, the story filled me with indignation. Do you know what I’m taking about?

It’s the boy! The selfish, ungrateful boy, who never gives anything back. He receives everything the tree has to give and he never says, “Thank you.” He takes everything she has to give, uses all of it up on himself, and he never says, “I’m sorry.” This book would have been so much better if he just said “thank you” at the end. Does this kid’s behavior in the story of The Giving Tree bother you like it bothers me? If so, then you and I should make sure that we’re not doing the same in our own lives.

So who would be the “giving tree” we take for granted in our lives? Our moms and dads come first to mind. They’ve given us life, food, shelter, clothing, and love our entire lives. What have we given back to them? They probably don’t need your material support right now, but they would appreciate signs of your love. (It’s probably no coincidence that Shel Silverstein dedicated The Giving Tree to his own mom.) But there is another “Giving Tree” we can take for granted, who is even greater and more generous than our parents. I speak of God, and of Jesus Christ, “from whom all good things come.” What should we do for our parents and for God? We should honor them with our words. We should obey them in our actions. We should be grateful for everything and show it.

For God, we do this by way of sacrifices. (This Eucharist is a thanksgiving sacrifice. The name itself means thanksgiving in Greek.) Yet our sacrifice is not merely what happens here at church, but the offering of our whole lives. Those who make no sacrifices for God in their daily lives bring nothing to His altar. What do we have to offer Him today? What will we have to offer him tomorrow?

Jesus Christ is The Giving Tree. At this sacrifice, let us say to Him, “I’m sorry, for misusing your gifts.” Let us say, “Thank you, for your generosity to us.” And let us say, “I love you,” because that will make Him happy.

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2 Responses to “The Giving Tree — Tuesday, 8th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I”

  1. pussywillowpress Says:

    I agree–this story bothers me too. I was first introduced to it as a filmstrip in my religious education classes (tells you how long ago that was!). I’m not sure what their point was in showing it to us, but I like your moral :).

    I also note that all that “taking” didn’t give the boy lasting happiness. I get to the end of the story & think, “That’s it? That’s as good as it gets?” Thank God that this story can’t hold a candle to His Reality! He DOES give lasting happiness :)!

  2. spallato Says:

    The giving tree yes is a story about a boy wanting and wanting while the tree is giving and giving. The boy does not use please or thank you but when does god ever thank you? cause you are using his “Giving Tree” aka Mother nature as a place to throw your trash and use up all the resources it has without ever giving back!! do you ever thank the earth and in turn god for making all that their is whenever you use any materialistic good. You, the world and I are all victims of selfishness and the unrelenting WANT for more. You say “We should honor them with our words. We should obey them in our actions. We should be grateful for everything and show it.” pledge to go green and stick too it and you will do everything you just said we should. Think before you act and speak next time.
    p.s. this book has endless meanings if you read it enough

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