I, the Lord, bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree.

(pertaining to today’s first reading: EZEKIEL 17:22-24)

Parables, fables, allegories, and other extended metaphors were around long before Jesus’ time on earth. The craft of teaching moral lessons by means of stories is an ancient one. Isaiah used stories to make his points. So did Hosea and Ezekiel; as well as the novella writers of Ruth, Judith, Esther, and Tobit. As recently as Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, or the latest Pixar movie, we see how storytelling brings moral lessons.

In today’s passage, Ezekiel describes how leaders rise and fall at God’s bidding. The prophet spares us the political yammering, and talks about trees instead. The crest of a cedar, the most majestic of regional trees, is transplanted to Israel to be regally tall, fruitful, and a source of life and protection for all. this is the kind of leadership Israel needs in the time of exile. It’s the kind of leadership for which our world still longs.

God routinely brings down the arrogant tree, and lifts high the lowly one.

Trees are often characters in biblical stories. What other stories of trees do you remember from both the Old and New Testaments?

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