2 October 2022
Last Thursday, 29 September, was the feast day of St Michael and All Angels – Michaelmas Day. Probably it passed without your noticing it, depending on whether you think much about angels. Most of us don’t, I suspect. But there was one student at theological college with me who said he often saw angels. I haven’t – or have I?
Angels crop up in the Old and New Testaments, but it is not always very clear who or what they are. As often as not they are described as men. There are, of course, mentions of Cherubim and Seraphim (-im is a Hebrew plural ending), who are celestial beings. These aren’t the fat little babies with stubby wings we see depicted in art. The biblical cherubim are rather more alarming!
But to get back to those angels who are simply shown as men. There isn’t any suggestion that they have wings. Three of these meet Abraham and talk with him. A young man meets the disciples at the empty tomb of Jesus. They are divine messengers, but are they human?
And this is the really important thing about angels – they are first and foremost messengers. The Hebrew word “malak” and the Greek word “aggelos” (the gg is pronounced ng) both mean “messenger”. So the prophet Malachi means “my messenger”. Angels have a message to deliver, they do God’s work, and they are also shown sometimes singing his praises.
Is that so very different from us? Do we not have the message of God’s Good News to deliver? Are we not meant to do his work here on earth? And do we not sing his praises? The Letter to the Hebrews says that we may have entertained angels unawares. And who knows, perhaps we are doing it all the time.
So… be an angel!
Bruce Wakeling, Honorary Assistant Priest