Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Reflection on Angels

by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo via WikiPaintings
The grace of God is a terrible thing. Not in the more common parlance, but in the old sense of a thing likely to cause terror. For we, our faith tells us, have been creatures of the darkness who "loved darkness rather than light, because [our] deeds were evil" (John 3:19). The light blinds us, the message of God leaves us paralyzed.The Word of God, by whom we are made whole, is "like a refiner's fire" (Malachi 3:2).

Is it any wonder then, that throughout scriptures, the presence of angels, the messengers who carry the words of God, leaves men stricken with holy terror? Often, this is understood as a result of the angel's otherworldly nature, for they are indeed utterly eldritch in their appearance. Yet, might it not be they themselves that terrify, but the message they carry?

For though they bring good news, the message is also terrifying. We are called to give up ourselves, to raise crosses and be buried with Christ that we might live to God. That this is a scary thing should not be downplayed.

To those in darkness, the messengers of God seem to bring death. Yet, though we die, if it be in Christ we shall live. Like Isaiah, though we be men of "unclean lips," God will make us clean that we might become messengers of His Kingdom (Isaiah 6:5-7).

We will, and we should, fear this message of God, but more so should we hope. The messengers of God are but creatures, and the words they have brought us are not, ultimately, words of death, but words of life! Today, as we celebrate the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, let us remember to whom their presence should ever point us. Let us, when we hear the message, like the blessed virgin Mary, declare to God, "Let it be to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38). Let us receive Christ this day, that "as we have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by his cross and passion we may be brought unto the glory of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen" (Angelus).