Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Angels Among Us

     Do you believe there are angels among us? I do. Years ago, I read a very moving book of true stories about angels coming to the aid of every day people. Where Angels Walk by Joan Wester Anderson changed my view of heavenly hosts.
     Before that, I had mainly thought angels were only sent in very important situations, such as to tell Mary she had God’s favor and ask the Blessed Virgin if she would be the mother of God. I hadn’t spent much time thinking about angels among us in more ordinary situations.

    Today is the feast day of the three archangels: St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael. Since we attend a parish named St. Michael, we celebrated the lives of the archangels this past Sunday at Mass. In his sermon, Fr. Dan emphasized that to be an angel means to be a messenger. Though I’d certainly heard this definition and job description of angels before, it struck me differently this time.
     A messenger implies someone who listens carefully to an important piece of information and has the task of delivering it to its intended recipient, without changing a word or leaving anything out. A messenger has an important role and must be a trusted servant. There will be times when the messenger will not be well-received, because the correspondence he or she holds is not what others want to hear, can easily understand, or believe without further proof. An attitude of humility is essential in a good messenger. He or she must sometimes take great risks to deliver the message in hand. The implications of the words may not be understood at first. As they sink in over time, questions may arise.
     Is it possible on some level that we can be angels, God’s messengers here on Earth? I think so. If we are willing to listen carefully to God’s message, then we can deliver it to others. It’s not as simple as someone whispering in your ear during a game of telephone. Really listening to God can be a struggle, at least it has often been for me. Sometimes I avoid asking God the tough questions He wants me to ask, so He can give me the answers He knows I need to hear and obey.
     If we empty ourselves and listen to God’s still, small voice that comes to us in the silence, will we always like what we hear? Probably not. God has often had the habit of asking people to do the things they feel least capable or worthy of doing. He frequently asks us to trust Him by waiting when that’s the only thing we don’t want to do a minute longer. He strips us of our pride and self-reliance, then tells us He plans to use us to lead others closer to Him. We wonder how that’s possible when it seems like we have nothing left. God smiles knowing at that point, all that remains, is what He gave us to begin with, the only things we need to do His will and glorify Him.
     Of course, there will be times when being God’s messenger is a joy-filled responsibility. When we are able to see God’s light in someone who feels surrounded by darkness, we can offer a message of hope that all is not lost. Christ’s light is still burning inside even when all someone’s feelings say ‘the flame in my soul has been extinguished.’
     When someone is suffering in mind, body, and/or spirit, we can remind the person that God is both Perfect Physician and Wonderful Counselor. He knows and intends to give them the healing He knows they need most in His perfect timing.
     We can be messengers of God’s love, healing, hope, compassion, peace, joy, kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, and mercy. We can be angels.
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