Elijah & The Broom Tree

Last week we heard grumbling from our ancestors eating weird food in the desert until Jesus gave us himself. Today we hear mumbling from the prophet Elijah running away from being killed, not knowing a future and just wanting to die.

So much for getting up on the wrong side of the bed. (I don’t know about you but there’s one way out of bed for me.) The important part for us is that Elijah does all this mumbling under a broom tree. I had to look up a picture of it but it’s significant. There’s no light coming through those dark branches. It looks full and towering from the outside, just like our episodes of isolation; feeling totally alone without that four-letter word found in crossword puzzles describing “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.”

It’s called hope. It’s got to be among of the best religious words in our vocabulary because it really defies definition. I would disagree with the dictionary because a Christian hope is not a feeling but a gift, a Divine gift. The hope of having the Brewers do what the Bucks did is the dictionary one. The hope of finding a cure for any illness is spiritual. It’s the spiritual stream that flows through any setback or trial in our lives.

I may wish to repeat this twice but I won’t, so listen up. God does not cause diseases but God, through the life-given gift of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit sees us through it. Elijah is strengthened by food delivered by an angel. Forget Jimmy John’s and Uber Eats, this is a real delivery. An angel. Food full of hope that propels Elijah to continue his journey as a prophet.

“Don’t lose hope,” family and friends tell you during a difficult time in your life. You cannot lose hope. You can only put it on a shelf. Or, ignore it’s grace-filled power. Or, blame God for erasing it from your life. You cannot lose hope.

You know, I hate to disagree with St. Paul but I believe he’s wrong in making love the greatest of those three, “faith, hope, love.” Hope is the anchor that leads us to faith. Love, is then the lived expression of hope and faith. Elijah never lost hope. He only forgot where he put it. The angel tells him, “It’s in the food, dummy. Eat, find your strength and continue your faithful journey.”

Fast forward to the New Testament and Jesus tells us the same thing, only without saying “dummy.” Or, does he? I’ve had my “broom tree” experiences over the years. You cannot get out of this life alive without some “broom trees” of your own. The light is dimmed if not thought to be completely gone. You are hungry and stuck under a towering, full tree that appears to block the light of Christ.

All Christians believe that the “light of Christ” can never be extinguished. The hope placed in our lives through any of the sacraments gives us an eternal light.

Neil Diamond sang, “Turn on your heart light, let it shine for all the world to see.” That’s combining all of faith, hope and love into one musical verse.

Yet. Yet, I have a better musical verse for our reflection today. It’s God taking to us through the immortal words of the Andrew Sisters, “Don’t sit under the broom tree with anyone else but me.”

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on Amazon.com.
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