Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

6/20/2014 (2 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 (2 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'


ę 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Living Faith

Weakness and Failure in the Christian Life. We Hold This Treasure in Earthen Vessels Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

I have been reflecting upon my own weakness a lot these days. I have discovered that the older I get the less I know and the more imperfections I discover in myself. As a younger man, I labored under a misconception that living the Christian life would somehow ... continue reading


Labor Day: Human Work Has Been Raised to the Grandeur of God Watch

Image of For the Christian, all human work participates in the ongoing work of redemption

By Deacon F.K. Bartels

When God Incarnate entered into our created world, he sanctified humankind and the labor in which men engage in order to shape creation. It is in gazing through the supreme lens of the consummation of God's revelation, the Person of Jesus Christ, that the divine light ... continue reading


International community has done too little in Syria and Iraq, Cardinal Vegli˛ declares Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegli├▓ met with Pope Francis last week. The President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants, Cardinal Vegli├▓ me to discuss the plight of those fleeing the Islamist violence in Iraq. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Pope: 'God wants us to grow in the ability to come together, forgive each other' Watch

Image of Pope Francis drinks a traditional South American drink called mate offered by the faithful as he arrives to lead his weekly audience in Saint Peter's Square.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis, addressing more than 12,000 people that had gathered for the pope's catechesis and blessing, touched upon a common human trait that everyone must strive to overcome. The Pope said that while envy, jealousy and cruelty are human instincts, they are ... continue reading


Why Do We Commemorate the Beheading of John the Baptizer? Watch

Image of The Beheading of John the Baptizer

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We now refer to this Feast as the Passion of John the Baptizer more often than the Beheading of John the Baptizer. However, given the realities we face in this new missionary age of the Church, the actual beheading rushes to the forefront. We are seeing it in our own ... continue reading


How much power do you really have? More than you think!

Image of YCVF continues to deliver quality learning tools to Catholic students.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Earlier this year, representatives from Catholic Team Global donated a batch of XO Tablets to a humble Catholic school. Now, Catholic Team Global is preparing to do it again with support from its members and valued readers of Catholic Online. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Challenging the just war theory

Image of The horrors of war persist long after the shooting stops.

By Tony Magliano

Is there such a thing as a just war? Can the massive death and destruction of armed conflict ever be morally justified by followers of the Prince of Peace? For the first disciples of Christ the answer was a resounding "No!"During the first 300 years of Christianity it ... continue reading


St Augustine Teaches Us How to Read the Bible Watch

Image of St. Augustine writing

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The Bible is not some-thing, but reveals Some-One. In the words of St. Paul to Timothy, all Scripture is inspired by God. (2 Tim. 3:16) The Greek means God-breathed. They reveal Jesus Christ and our encounter with Him is the heart of what it means to be a Christian. ... continue reading


Spiritual Childhood and Contemplative Prayer Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

One of the greatest joys in this later chapter of my life is an unexpected gift, his name is Noah. He is my grandson. He calls me Poppi. He is seven years old and so very wise. Noah continually confronts me with the utter simplicity, trust, openness and beauty of ... continue reading


How to Avoid Sliding into Pharisee-ism Watch

Image of Christ Before the High Priest, by Gerrit van Honthorst (1590-1656) hangs in the London Museum of Art.  The painting depicts Jesus, standing before the High priest - with His holy hands bound. The Priest, who at the time I thought was a Pharisee, is looking up with an arrogant demeanor and a pointed finger.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

A priest friend once reminded me that not ALL the Pharisees were so blinded by their self-righteousness that they failed to recognize that the One whom they so often sought to correct was God Incarnate. And, of course, he was correct. The Pharisees were a genuine ... 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, First Corinthians 2:10-16
10 to us, though, God has given revelation through ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13, 13-14
8 Yahweh is tenderness and pity, slow to anger, full ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:31-37
31 He went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 2nd, 2014 Image

St. Ingrid of Sweden
September 2: Born in Skńnninge, Sweden, in the 13th century, St. Ingrid lived ... 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