Monthly Archives: September 2018

Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael – 29 September

Angel: anyone who is a mediator of God’s tenderness.

 

Introduction

 

In the collective imagination, the angel has a well-defined character and those who paint him must adhere to certain pre-established canons. An angel with hippy traits, tail, tattoo on his arm and jeans would have little chance of being accepted, not only by the more traditionalist parish priests but also by the less bigoted faithful. The angel has to radiate a bright light, has wings, flowing hair and the soft features, but still male because no angel has a woman’s name. Painting an angel with shoes would be the grossest error a painter would commit: an angel flies, not walk.

 

To us heirs of the Enlightenment and positivist culture, this ethereal figure appears more than a real being, a naive, archaic pre-modern legacy; a regression to the world of childhood fairy tales where gnomes, fairies, and elves enter the scene. In the era of science and technology, faith in angels would seem destined to a rapid decline. However, here it is re-emerging and fashionable again. Surveys show that 60% of Italians are convinced to be assisted by a guardian angel, 50% say they talk to him and 6% calls for their protection from accidents. 

 

“You are an angel!” We all have heard this compliment at least once: from a friend to whom we have given a hand at a difficult time; from an office colleague, delighted in seeing us react to an offense with a smile and calm words, by a married couple we helped to reconcile; by a wife to whom we brought coffee in bed caressing her as she sipped it. 

 

“You are an angel.” Is it just a figure of speech, an image, a metaphor? No, it is a reality—today’s readings tell us.

 

The angel was born to fill a distance. The Hebrew word mal’ak comes from the root la’ak that means to send and is attributed to anyone who is sent to convey a message, gather information or take a specific action in the name of an agent. The Bible does not make any distinction between people’s envoys and God’s. Anyone who goes between people or between distant communities or between God and people is called mal’ak—angel.

 

Even when the sacred text gives a name to the messengers of God, it is difficult to determine whether it points to real characters, to spirits who assumed human forms, or if one uses an image, a personification to describe the ineffable experience of divine intervention in people’s favor.

 

The feast of the archangels is an invitation for us to turn around and to recognize the angels who are at our side. They do not move with wings, but guide with caution; they are serene and kind even when the traffic is not flowing. They do not wear a bright robe, but the sari of Mother Teresa, the gown of the doctor, the worker’s suit or jeans of a young priest of the Oratory. And if they do not have shoes it is because they removed them to offer them to the poor.

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:

“Lordthat I may be your angel.“

 

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26th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year B – September 30, 2018

We are Given the Spirit but not Exclusively

 

There is a video by Fr. Fernando Armellini with English subtitles

commenting on today’s Gospel reading:

 

Introduction

 

It is not always easy to distinguish a friend from a foe. Sometimes it’s deceiving: the most trustworthy person, the one chosen as a confidant, a day can betray, while the one we kept under control because we judge him dangerous in the end may prove to be the most loyal companion.

 

How to understand who is with us and who is against us?

 

The Christian, at times, gives the impression to proceed alone down the right path traced out by Christ and is caught by anxiety; but as soon as he raises his eyes and looks around, he unexpectedly sees many generous, sincere, well-arranged traveling companions walking at his side. He is astonished and asks why he had not noticed them before.

 

He did not see them because they were hidden by the thick veil of presumption of being the only true disciple spread over his eyes. Envy and jealousy prevented him from recognizing the good done by those who were different from him.

 

The apostles were silent when Jesus questioned them about the reasons for their contention along the way. They were ashamed because the Master had exposed their petty ambitions (Mk 8:34). Instead, not only were they willing to admit, but they felt proud to cultivate the pride of the group, a haughty presumption which led them to consider enemies of Christ and condemn those who do not think like them.

 

“The pride of the group” is very dangerous: it is subtle and makes one deem holy zeal that which is only disguised selfishness, bigotry and inability to admit that good exists outside of the religious structure in which one belongs.

 

To internalize the message, we repeat:

Jesus teaches to delight of the good whoever the author is.

 

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