S+L logo

The Angels of Christmas

December 23, 2013
Angels
The drama of Jesus’ birth at Christmas introduces us to a very diverse cast of characters who bring us one of the most beloved stories of all time.
The stage is vast — covering quite a bit of territory in biblical Israel. It encompasses the power and might of Jerusalem’s temple and the sleepy hilltop town of Nazareth where a young woman, home alone, welcomes a heavenly visitor who sets the whole story in motion. The plot moves from Nazareth in Galilee to the little town of Bethlehem in the land of Judah where the dreams of prophets and message of angels are realized.
But the drama of Christmas not only involves those on Earth, but also quite an impressive heavenly troupe as well. Today let’s consider the angels of Christmas.
One need only view the wide variety of angels on greeting cards, or consider the care in choosing the appropriate angel to crown Christmas trees, or the precision in placing angels in our manger or creche scenes at home or in church to discover that Christmas without angels just isn’t Christmas.
The stories of Jesus’ infancy and childhood contain evidence of the activity of angels. In the opening moments of the gospel according to Luke, an angel informs Zechariah about the birth of his son John the Baptist, and the same angel foretells the birth of Mary’s son, Jesus. Later Luke has angels announcing the good news to the shepherds in the fields.
In Matthew’s account, an angel advises Joseph to accept Mary’s pregnancy. An angel warns Joseph of the danger he’s in from Herod, and later returns to give Joseph the “all clear,”to leave the temporary exile in Egypt and to return to Israel.
For Christians, the stories of the angels in the life of Jesus have a power which no sermon, university lecture, television or radio broadcast could ever have. When we read the story of his birth of a virgin mother, it speaks to us of the utter kindness and generosity of God, and of his creative power that draws new life out of empty wombs and barren tombs.
When we read the story of the turmoil the child Jesus brought into the lives of Mary, Joseph, the Magi, Herod, the whole of Jerusalem, and all the babes of Bethlehem — we are forced to ask ourselves whether the risen Christ challenges and moves our lives in the same way.
When we read the story of the shepherds and their vision of angelic choirs, we discover anew how God can break into our life as well. When we read the story of that incredible good news from heaven — of those words of “glory in the highest and peace on earth,” we hear an echo of the risen Christ who would say those very things to his adult disciples and continues to say to the whole church: “My peace I give to you.”
When we remember and relive the angelic roles in Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, the veil that separates us from the world of the spirit is drawn back. These angelic beings stir awesome responses within us. The powerful drama of Christmas may well give us one of our deepest glimpses into the heart of God and the mind of his son Jesus Christ, who comes to pitch his tent among us at Christmas.

Related posts

Christ and the Priesthood
FacebookTwitter
Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – October 21st, 2018 The readings for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time of Cycle B invite us to prayerfully consider the priesthood and priestly minis ...read more
How to Inherit Eternal Life
FacebookTwitter
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – October 14th, 2018 Mark’s Gospel story of Jesus’ encounter with the man seeking eternal life is essentially a vocation story (Mark 10: ...read more
Read this reflection from Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, on the transformative qualities of a shared meal, as portrayed in the classic film, Babette's Feast. ...read more
Marriage and the Family: Humanity’s Future
FacebookTwitter
Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B – October 7th, 2018 Rather than commenting in detail on each of the readings for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), I would like to offer some g ...read more
A Smile upon Humanity for 33 Days
FacebookTwitter
Read this reflection on the papacy of Pope John Paul I and the homily given by Cardinal Ratzinger at his memorial Mass in Munich. ...read more