Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

6/20/2014 (5 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

When we reach the end of ourselves, we find the beginning of authentic faith

I spend a lot of time under the broom tree as I get older. I see it as a holy place, a place of invitation, in the unfolding loving plan of God in my own life. It is under the broom tree - when I feel the least able to continue the struggle -that I learn to surrender myself to the One who always sends His messengers. There, I often find the sustenance I need for the journey of life and learn the ways of living faith. 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.

A Byzantine Icon of Elijah under the broom tree

A Byzantine Icon of Elijah under the broom tree

Highlights

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/20/2014 (5 months ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Elijah, living faith, Broom Tree, fear, faith, spirituality, struggle, faith, holiness, courage, Christian living, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - The first scripture reading at Holy Mass this entire week has recounted the life and ministry of the prophet Elijah.

One of my favorite biblical characters is the Prophet Elijah.

Many people have heard of the dramatic encounter between this great Old Testament prophet and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. It is recorded in the eighteenth chapter of the Old Testament Book of First Kings.

The prophet confronts hundreds who oppose him in a test of faith. 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, many people are not familiar with the story that follows in the next chapter.

This same mighty prophet runs for cover-seeking refuge in a desert under a broom tree, begging God to take his life-when confronted by a wicked queen named Jezebel who has heard the news of the encounter from Ahab.

It is under the broom tree in our own lives that we often learn what may be the more important lesson for the journey. That is because it is there where most of us truly live.

It is there where we also have the hardest time surrendering our wills to the Will of God.

After Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel he was exhausted. Then he learned of the threat upon his life from Jezebel. We find this mighty man of God so distraught that he prays for death.

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 we can imitate in our own lives.

It teaches us how to hear the voice of God not in spite of but even through those difficult times in our own lives.

When we reach the end of ourselves, we find the beginning of authentic faith.

We read: "Elijah went a day's 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)

I spend a lot of time under the broom tree as I get older.

I see it as a holy place, a place of invitation, in the unfolding loving plan of God in my own life. It is under the broom tree - when I feel the least able to continue the struggle -that I learn to surrender myself to the One who always sends His messengers.

There, I often find the sustenance I need for the journey of life and learn the ways of living faith.

Let me be clear, I 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.

Yet, it is this same Elijah who - even after the Carmel experience - runs 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.

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 learns 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 came as a Man. He spoke on three mountains.

On the first, He gave 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, He was 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 spoke the words - It is finished - and gave himself up in complete surrender to redeem the world that had rejected His love.

There is a mystery here, deep and profound, yet as simple as the broom tree.

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.

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 learn the Faith of Elijah, under the broom tree.

---


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


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More Living Faith

Take the Catholic Online Thanksgiving Challenge! Watch

Image of Reaching out to others is precisely the way to show that we are thankful for what we have.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Thanksgiving is supposed to be a holiday filled with family and food, often spent on televised parades and football, and naps after lunch. Kids play in the yard or the streets as everybody generally has a good time. However, this is not the case for millions of ... continue reading


Pope says he's willing to speak to Islamic State - says nations are likewise guilty of 'terrorism' Watch

Image of After addressing the European Parliament and the Council of Europe, Pope Francis also told journalists that the threat of terrorism was not the only horror weighing on the world.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Asked about the possibilities of discussion with Islamic State, Pope Francis said, "I never count anything as lost. Never. Never close the door. It's difficult, you could say almost impossible, but the door is always open." The Pontiff went forward to say that ... continue reading


Unborn, terminally ill and elderly are treated as objects in Europe, Pope Francis says Watch

Image of If we uphold the dignity of the person we are acknowledging the

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

"Despite talk of human rights, too many people are treated as objects in Europe: unborn, terminally ill, and the elderly," Pope Francis said. Speaking at the European Union Parliament in Strasbourg, the pontiff said that "We're too tempted to throwaway lives we ... continue reading


Church recognizes six new saints as Pope Francis canonizes in Sunday ceremony, speaking about how we too shall be judged Watch

Image of Indian well-wishers gather at the Vatican for the Canonization ceremony.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has canonized six new saints, two Indians and four Italians, praising their lives as "extraordinary" and reminding us all that we will be judged by how we treat others. VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - Pope Francis recognized six new saints on Sunday, ... continue reading


Pope says church must extend help to immigrants, 'so that all may be treated as children of God' Watch

Image of The world must now recognize the advantages of migration. Host countries get new workers to meet production needs,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking to the 300 participants in the Vatican-sponsored World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants, the Pope says that the Catholic Church "is a mother without limits and without borders." He says that the church must welcome and assist all of God's children, ... continue reading


Feast of Christ the King and Advent: What Does it Mean? Watch

Image of The Church really IS the Mystical Body of the Risen Christ. That Body is inseparably joined to the Head. Jesus Christ is alive, he has been raised, and he continues His redemptive mission now through the Church, of which we are members. As we choose to actually live our lives liturgically, not just go through the motions, we can move through life in the flow of the liturgical calendar. We can experience the deeper mystery and meaning of life, now made New in Jesus Christ, the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6,7) Jesus Christ is King! Jesus Christ is meant to become the Lord of our whole lives, and inform the very pattern of how we live them.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

On November 23rd we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It is one of many opportunities the Catholic Liturgical Church year offers to each of us consider the creature which is called time, receive it as a gift and begin to really live differently. Yet, for ... continue reading


Two bishops dine and dialogue with peace activists

Image of War doesn't decide who is right, just who is left.

By Tony Magliano

During the recent U.S. Catholic bishops fall assembly in Baltimore, two bishops decided to forego the military chaplains dinner sponsored by the U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains Office, and attended instead a simple supper and discussion on peacemaking. On the evening of ... continue reading


'God always forgives, but the earth does not,' Pope warns Watch

Image of The Pope urged the world's leaders to rein in their greed and help the hungry.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A doomsday scenario in which Mother Nature would exact her revenge is possible, even likely, Pope Francis warns. The pontiff was speaking out against the exploitation of natural resources for profit. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Pope urged the world's ... continue reading


Pope Francis' special message: Why Poverty? 'And while we speak of new rights, the hungry remain'

Image of When we give our loaves and fishes to Christ, there is no end to the Good that can come from it.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has asked the world to do more to help those who suffer from hunger and malnutrition. Despite gains made in infrastructure and outpourings of food, too many people with plenty have done too little to help. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - With ... continue reading


How do you raise a good, upstanding child? With daily prayers, weekly church attendance and the knowledge of God Watch

Image of Billy Graham, now 96, has reached out to millions with his joyous words of the truth of God and Jesus Christ.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Reverend Billy Graham, the world famous television evangelist and founder and chairman of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has said that the reason the world seems to be in such dire straits is that children are not being raised right. LOS ANGELES, CA ... 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, Revelation 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9
1 After this, I saw another angel come down from ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 100:2, 3, 4, 5
2 serve Yahweh with gladness, come into his presence ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:20-28
20 'When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 27th, 2014 Image

St. James Intercisus
November 27: James was a favorite of King Yezdigerd I of Persia and a ... 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