Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith A. Fournier

8/9/2009 (5 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A lesson from Elijah: Faith is often found under the broom tree where we learn to surrender our will to God and begin to hear His still small voice.

There is mystery here deep and profound—yet, as simple as the lesson learned under the broom tree by Elijah. God is searching for men and women who will surrender their lives in love to Him.

There is mystery here deep and profound—yet, as simple as the lesson learned under the broom tree by Elijah. God is searching for men and women who will surrender their lives in love to Him.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith A. Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/9/2009 (5 years ago)

Published in Living Faith


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - The first reading of the Liturgy for the Western Church on the 19th Sunday of the Year, Year B, is drawn from the longer account of the Prophet Elijah: Elijah went a days journey into the desert, until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it. He prayed for death saying: This is enough, O LORD! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers. He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree, but then an angel touched him and ordered him to get up and eat. Elijah looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water. After he ate and drank, he lay down again, but the angel of the LORD came back a second time, touched him, and ordered, Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you! He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food; he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb. (1 Kgs. 19:4-8)

In the 18th chapter Elijah had just confronted the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. He was seeking rest. As our passage begins, he had just learned of the threat upon his life from Jezebel. So, after that confrontation with the false prophets of Baal, we find this mighty man of God so distraught that he prays for death. This moment of complete fatigue becomes an invitation to deeper faith. Retreating to a desert to die, under a broom tree, he encounters the Lord, who visits him through a messenger. That is what the word Angel means. His surrender to the voice of God, though reluctant at first, shows us a pattern. It reveals how to hear the voice of God in those difficult times in our own lives. Like Elijah, when we reach the end of ourselves, we often find the beginning of authentic faith when we surrender to the Lord.

I seem to be spending more time under the broom tree as I get older. I have finally come to see that place as a holy place, a place of invitation, in an unfolding loving plan of God in my own life. It is under those broom trees, when I feel the least able to continue the struggle and surrender myself to the One who always sends His messengers, that I find the sustenance I need for the journey of life and learn the ways of living faith.

Many people have heard of the dramatic encounter between the great Old Testament prophet Elijah and the prophets of Baal that occurred on Mount Carmel just prior to this account. It is recorded in the eighteenth chapter of the Old Testament's Book of First Kings. The powerful prophet confronts hundreds who oppose him in a test of derring do. Each builds an altar and calls upon his god to send fire to consume it. Elijah is the only one whose prayer is answered as the Altar and sacrifice are consumed by Fire.

However, most people are not familiar with the story that follows in this chapter of the Biblical text. This same mighty prophet runs for coverseeking refuge in a desert under a broom tree, begging God to take his lifewhen confronted by a wicked queen named Jezebel who has heard the news of the encounter from Ahab. But, it is right here, under the broom tree, where we can learn what may be the more important lesson for the journey of life. That is because it is there, under the broom tree, where most of us truly live. It is there where we also have the hardest time surrendering our wills to the Will of God.

Let me be clear, I believe in the Biblical account and marvel at the courage of Elijah and the power of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to confound the false prophets of Baal. However, it is this same God who chooses to meet and dialogue with Elijah under that broom tree after that dramatic event. And it is this same Elijah whoeven after the Carmel experienceruns into the desert, prays for death, and collapses in exhaustion under the broom tree. How very human how very encouraging how very real.

The early Christians referred to death as falling asleep. It was the point of complete surrender into the loving arms of a loving God. In this experience of his weakness Elijah encounters the Lord in a different way. I propose that this encounter reveals the heart of Christian prayer, a call to surrendered love. There, under the broom tree, he is fed a hearth cake and water, a Eucharistic symbol. He got up, ate and drank; then strengthened by that food; he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb. (1 Kings 19:8) There he is prepared to hear the voice of God as He passed by, not in a mighty wind, an earthquake, or a fire but in a gentle whisper the kind that can only be heard by one who has a surrendered ear to hear. Humble not haughty.

Then the LORD said, "Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by." A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD--but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake--but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire--but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound.When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, "Elijah, why are you here?" (1 Kings 19:11 - 13)

Millennia later, God would come as a Man. He would speak on three mountains. On the first, He would give the new law through which His followers would call down the fire of love to consume the world through living their lives of poured-out-love after his Ascension. On the second, which we heard proclaimed this past Thursday in the great Feast of the Transfiguration, He would be transfigured before their eyes in the presence of Elijah and Moses, fulfilling both the law and the prophets and showing them the future glory for all who walked in His way. And on the third, He would speak again in a whisper - "It is finished" - and give himself up in complete surrender to redeem the world that had rejected His love.

There is mystery here deep and profoundyet, as simple as the lesson learned under the broom tree by Elijah. God is searching for men and women who will surrender their lives in love to Him. Often, it takes the depletion of all of our own efforts and resources before we are willing to give up - and give in - to Him. But when we do the life of true faith begins. It is there, we learn to hear the God of surrendered love in the whisper of the wind. It is there that we are learning to live under the broom tree

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Living Faith

Pope Francis asks new bishops to avoid self-promotion, to love their congregations instead Watch

Image of Pope Francis meets with bishops for an audience. The Holy Father had important advice for a group of new bishops yesterday.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has admonished a new generation of bishops against seeking promotion and instead asked them to look after and love their congregations. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - During an address at the Vatican yesterday, Pope Francis spoke to 138 ... continue reading


POPE IN ALBANIA: Pope Francis denounces religious militants during one-day trip Watch

Image of On his first trip as pope to a European country outside of Italy, Pope Francis made no direct reference to Islamic State militants who have seized territory in Syria and Iraq.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In his one-day trip to the chiefly Muslim nation of Albania, Pope Francis soundly denounced religious militants, declaring that no one act as the "armor of God." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Let no one consider themselves the 'armor' of God while planning ... continue reading


If Christ Has Not Been Raised Our Preaching and Our Faith is Empty Watch

Image of We too,you and me, will be raised from the dead. Only then will our redemption be complete. We are works in progress. However, that new life can begin even now for those with eyes of living faith, hearts filled with His presence, and minds renewed by the Light of the Truth which Jesus has fully revealed and imparts to those who love and follow Him.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

When we learn to embrace the implications of that empty tomb, and allow grace to work within us, we are made ready for eternity - by living differently every day. The Resurrection provides a framework, a hermeneutic, a lens of meaning, for everything that happens ... continue reading


You Go Into the Vineyard Too! Every Christian Has a Vocation Watch

Image of Priesthood, Diaconate in Christ,consecrated or religious life,lay ecclesial movements, consecrated Christian marriage - every Baptized Christian has a vocation. We just have to learn to live it!

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Church is a seed, sign and beginning of the kingdom, making the kingdom present in a world which is wounded by the effects of sin but waiting to be born anew. The Lord continues His work through us. We are the workers in His vineyard. It matters little what ... continue reading


Pope Francis at risk of an assassination attempt by Islamic State Watch

Image of There was an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981 by Turk Mehmet Ali Agca. That Pope later forgave his attacker.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis at risk of an assassination attempt by ISIL'Band of criminals' could have Pope Francis in its sights prior to his visits to Albania, TurkeyCatholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)Iraq's ambassador to the Holy See warns that there are credible threats against ... continue reading


Patriarchs ask faithful to help 'save Christianity in the Middle East' Watch

Image of Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan prayed during an ecumenical service in Washington last week.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Five Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs from the Middle East urged Westerners to take action to help ensure that Christians and other minorities can remain in the region. "Christians are not (just) looking for humanitarian aid. They are looking for humanitarian ... continue reading


With just six months to live, news anchorman finds comfort with God Watch

Image of Dave Benton announced on his Illinois show that he had only six months left to live after a long battle with brain cancer.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An Illinois news anchorman with Champaign WCIA-TV shared heartbreaking news with his viewers on September 11, revealing that after a lengthy battle with cancer, he had only six months to live. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The 51-year-old anchorman, Dave ... continue reading


Did a Catholic Online candle contribute to a miracle? Here's a yes!

Image of Did a prayer candle have a role in a recent miracle?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online has received many comments thanking us for sharing the prayers of the faithful. Catholic Online has a vibrant prayer community and we are happy to report another miracle. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Mika T.* sent an email to Catholic Online ... continue reading


Pope Francis denounces ongoing global conflict as 'piecemeal' World War III Watch

Image of Pope Francis, who has often condemned the concept of war in God's name, said it would be legitimate for the international community to use force to stop

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In his visit to the Redipuglia monument, the resting place of 1000,000 Italian soldiers killed during World War I, Pope Francis condemned ongoing conflicts across the globe. "Humanity needs to weep and this is the time to weep. Even today, after the second ... continue reading


Fr Peter M. J. Stravinskas on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross Watch

Image of Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D. is the Executive Director of the Catholic Education Foundation.

By Fr Peter M. J. Stravinskas,Ph.D., S.T.D.

Every cross borne by any believer in history gains meaning and becomes life-giving when it is brought into a relationship with the Cross, the Cross from which Jesus reigned as the King of Love and over which He triumphed in His glorious Resurrection.  The ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Proverbs 3:27-34
27 Refuse no kindness to those who have a right to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 15:2-3, 3-4, 5
2 Whoever lives blamelessly, who acts uprightly, who ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 8:16-18
16 'No one lights a lamp to cover it with a bowl or ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 22nd, 2014 Image

St. Thomas of Villanueva
September 22: Augustinian bishop. Born at Fuentellana, Castile, Spain, he was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter