Angels

12 and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. [1]

What were these two aggelous,  “messengers,” a word which we have adopted from the Greek and converted into “angels,” doing there?  Certainly, if we leave it at “angels” as we have come to conceive of angels, little cherubs fluttering around the feet of God and Mary, discerning their purpose becomes even more difficult. This rather cutesy pie innocuous portrayal of angels may be artistic license, but it doesn’t capture the essence of angels as we see them portrayed in Scripture.

Granted, here they seem rather “nice chaps,” but elsewhere in scripture, they can be very intimidating and dangerous, e.g. the angel of death (2 Samuel 24:15; I Chronicles 21:15; II Kings 19:35) and the four horsemen (Rev 6:1-8), not to mention Michael (Dan. 10:13, 10:21 and 12:1; Jude 1:9; Rev 12:7-9) and the legions on which Jesus could have called during his passion (Mt 26:53).

This post-Resurrection appearance is more in line with Raphael’s [Tobit 12:15[2]] and Gabriel’s (Lk 1:19[3] and Lk 1:26) demeanor.  Did you notice how they didn’t appear to Peter and John who just returned home, but all of a sudden, they are there for Mary Magdalene…In Matthew, there is only one angel who rolls the stone out of the way before talking to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary; in Mark, the stone is already taken care of and the one angel is again sitting and he speaks not only to these two, but also to Salome.  Here we have them at the foot and head of the place where Jesus body had laid.

The Church Triumphant, so named, not because they lord it over us on earth, but because they have successfully kept the faith, they have borne their cross here on earth and were faithful to the end and by Jesus, are justified and are with Him in heaven, the Saints, in union with the Angels who were faithful to God, are much more involved in our lives than we think. Many choose to believe that they (a) are figments of our imagination; (b) like demons, are dusty remnants of past beliefs (and thinking this of devils is an even more disastrous error); or (c) if they do exist, they have no impact nor relevance in our lives….wrong!  Never, never underestimate the intercession, the assistance, the watchfulness and the warnings of angels.

Being constantly on vigil for their evil opposites is equally true:  never, never underestimate the deceit, treachery, wiles and lies of devils.  Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour. [1 Pet 5:8]

To ignore Angels and Saints denies ourselves the benefit of two of God’s great gifts.  For we are definitely connected with them; He not only made us not only a little while lower than the angels (Heb 2:5; see also Ps 8:6), also He commands his angels with regard to you, to guard you wherever you go. (Ps 91:11; applied by the Satan to Jesus: Lk 4:10).  The angel’s job is to pray for mercy for those who will repent — and God answers the angels’ prayer.(Job 33:24-25)

Jesus certainly knew that we have help from angels.  Just as angels came and ministered to Jesus after his temptation (Mt 4:11) and again during his agony in the Garden (Lk 22:43), so angels minister to us and keep us from harm.   He also explicitly warned us not to mess with those for whom they care or the Father will hear of it: See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father. [Mt 18:10]  And remember, while He was referring specifically to children, He has just warned us that unless we become like children, we will not enter into the kingdom of heaven, [Mt 18:3] and later He will remind us that our status after death is determined by how we treat “the least of these, my brothers” and sisters. [Mt 25: 40,45]

Both the Angels and Saints rejoice over the conversion of sinners; they are concerned with our salvation. I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance…In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents. (Lk 15:7-10)

The prayers of the saints are also most important in our lives. Just as Abraham prayed for Sodom (Gen 18:16-33) and Moses interceded for Israel (Ex 32:11-14), so we are told that the Saints fall down before God as they present our prayers to Him as golden bowls full of incense (Rev. 5:8; 8:4)  The mandate we are given on earth, that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone,…this is good and pleasing to God our savior, (1 Tim 2: 1,3) continues in heaven.

We have confirmation of this from our tradition, the Magisterium.  Vatican II stated in Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness…. [T]hey do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus…. So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped. (No. 49)

Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks to this To the offering of Christ are united not only the members still here on earth, but also those already in the glory of heaven. In communion with and commemorating the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints, the Church offers the Eucharistic sacrifice. (1370)

Jesus, thank You for angels and saints who, because they love You, and they love us also and, following Your lead, care and pray for us.  We need all the help me can get!  Amen.  Alleluia!!!

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] …though in Enoch 10:4–6, he is definitely not the healing angel

[3] …note here, too, that Gabe shuts up Zachariah for doubting his message, though only for a short time.

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