20 December 2016
The Lord spoke to Ahaz and said, ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself coming either from the depths of Sheol or from the heights above.’ ‘No,’ Ahaz answered ‘I will not put the Lord to the test.’
Then Isaiah said:
‘Listen now, House of David:
are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men
without trying the patience of my God, too?
The Lord himself, therefore,
will give you a sign.
It is this: the maiden is with child
and will soon give birth to a son
whom she will call Immanuel,
a name which means “God-is-with-us.”’
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’
She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’
Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God’
‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.
The angel….sent by God
In the readings over these past 3 days, an angel appeared to Joseph, Zechariah and in today’s gospel reading, to Mary. Although the angel that appeared to Joseph was not named, it could well have been the Angel Gabriel – he was the chief messenger of the Lord. On several occasions, he is given the job of giving important announcements and tells of special events.
Isn’t it just so wonderful that God sent these angels to earth? That people in biblical times actually experienced angelic appearances? Sometimes, I wish that God would also send angels my way, so that I know for a fact that a message is from God and not some mumbo jumbo I made up in my own head. But God is still active in today’s world, just has He has been in the past. And His angels are certainly still at work. We may not come face to face with one, but they are certainly all around us.
At a retreat some time ago, someone shared that during one of the praying over sessions, she sighted very large and tall angels surrounding the entire room. And next to each retreatant, there were other smaller angels standing right next to them. She said she knew instinctively that these angels were family members of each retreatant who have passed on. I am not sure if our loved ones become angels when they pass on. Though I didn’t see these angelic beings myself (being in that same room), I choose to believe that it is true. That God sends angels to watch over us, and sing and praise with us.
Is it possible that you have met an angel face-to-face without realising it? “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2.
Angels do not necessarily appear as beautiful winged blazing-white beings. They can appear in the most ordinary form as humans. I do believe, with all of my heart, that although I may not immediately know or see someone as an angel, they are there at God’s direction.
A few months ago, I was on a Camino walk, hopelessly lost a few times. I would mutter under my breath “Jesus, ok…. I am hopelessly lost, show me where I should go?” And the Lord never failed to send angels to show us the way, more than a few times. Out of nowhere, they would appear, and then disappear – the lone pilgrim, the cyclists, two old men standing in front of the church, and a little old lady who suddenly appeared out of a window and directed us on a less travelled but shorter route to a pilgrim’s cafe. All angels indeed!
God loves us so much that He would send angels to answer our prayers. As we approach Christmas, can we be God’s earth angels? When God sends us to bring cheer and happiness to someone who may be alone this season or feeling a bit down, can we be like Mary and respond with a heartfelt ‘Yes!”?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Geraldine Nah)
Prayer: Jesus, just as you have so often sent people our way to help us and comfort us in times of need, give us merciful and loving hearts to be your angels, sent to our fellow brothers and sisters who need a little encouragement this season.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for loving us so much that you would send your multitudes of angels to watch over us, fight for us, encourage and protect us.