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In the history of the world, there have always been great gaps, separators which isolate one land mass from another. As a result of these natural boundary lines, countries have been formed; ethnic cultures have developed; physical and social separation were created. Whether mountains or rivers, or lava from a volcano spewing out a separating line of black rock, or a crack in the earth deep into its core, from an ancient earthquake too violent to be measured on the Richter scale, the bottom line results have always been the same, complete and utter division.
The religions of the world have not been spared from this inundation of factions. The earthquake that occurred on that first Good Friday, after Jesus had uttered His last cry, “Father, into Thy Hands I commend My Spirit”, tore apart the curtain in the temple, and fractured the temple area. The rumble from that outrageous act of murder against the Body of the Son of God could be felt around the world. It caused a split high up on a mountain in Italy, called Alverna, at the moment of Jesus’ death. This same mountain is where St. Francis of Assisi received the wounds of the Stigmata, some twelve hundred years later.
Perhaps a worse crack formed when the Christians split from the Jews. Granted, it was a spiritual or emotional fissure, but a devastating break nevertheless. Originally, it was clean; deep, but clean. The Jews would not accept Our Lord Jesus as their Messiah. That was it, pure and simple, the only line of separation. Other than that, everything about the new way of Jesus was on a parallel with Judaism. Christians even went to the temple to worship; then they would gather together at someone’s home to break bread, and share about the Messiah. This is the ancient beginnings of our Mass.
But when the Jews refused to accept Jesus as their Messiah, the Gentiles were evangelized and converted. Changes began to work their way into the Christian religion, and away from the Mosaic laws, (i.e. circumcision and some Kosher dietary laws) causing the gap to widen and deepen, until eventually, it became too wide and too deep, too impossible for humans to cross without help. As time went on, it took more than accepting Jesus as the Messiah for a Jew to join the Christian movement. There were Jewish laws which had nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus, and so they were not observed. This was something Jews who had joined the church, could not obey; at first they fought and then they left.
And so separation came about! This separation was obviously a plan of the evil one to form a deep and permanent gap between Jews and Christians, which was never meant to be. Jesus had come for His chosen people the Jews, dying for them as well as those who would come later, the Gentiles. Lucifer’s plot was designed for Jews and Christians to kill one another, eventually destroying the Church.
But it does seem strange that the perpetrators of the plot, the fallen angels, should have failed to consider the one entity, God had made strong enough to foil that plot, to bridge that gap, to cross that great chasm separating the old and the new, without fear of falling deep into the ravine, was their brothers, the good Angels. This bridge would stand for all time, as Jesus stood on the other side of the water, waiting for His beloved people to cross over to Him and His Church.
Angels have been a major factor in the Judao-Christian tradition, from the very beginning. While Bible Scholars of different Christian denominational persuasions disagree on just about everything in Scripture, as do our brothers and sisters of the Hebrew belief, there has always been one area where there has never been a dis-agreement, and that is the Biblical recognition of the authenticity and role of the Angels.
That Angels bridge the gap between the Old Testament and the New Testament is a well-known fact. Their existence and activities can be traced as far back as Genesis, and continue up through the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, where they play a major part in the prophecy of the end times. Through Scripture, we see their roles as varied, as are their powers and gifts. Because of these special qualities of leadership, we believe the Angels have distinct personalities, to perform individual tasks. But no matter how we view the Angels personally, they are always there in Scripture, at crucial times, and they play important roles. They are right up there standing in attendance with God.
The Angels themselves are mentioned no less than 320 times in the Old and New Testaments, as well as, in every main event in the Life of Jesus. The Angels are mentioned in the Garden of Eden. After the expulsion of Adam and Eve, God put Cherubim as guards of the gates of Eden. “He drove out the man; and at the east of Eden He placed the Cherubim, and the flaming sword, which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.”
By the time Adam and Eve were thrown out of the Garden of Eden, the battle between the good Angels and the followers of Lucifer, had already been fought and decided. Lucifer was given the form of the serpent. So even then, before what we humans consider the dawn of creation, battle lines had been drawn. Sides had been taken; roles had been allocated; the good Angels trying to help man; the fallen angels trying to destroy man. But even that early in the game, it was very obvious that man was just a tool, a scorecard in the hands of Satan, to show God how powerful he was, and what a waste of God’s time mankind was.
The Angels were appointed right from the beginning, by God Himself, to watch over us, to guide and protect us.
“For to His Angels He has given command about you, that they guard you in all your ways. “Upon their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.
“You shall tread upon the asp and the viper; you shall trample down the lion and the dragon.”
Although these words from the Psalms, are prophecy of the Angels’ protection first and foremost to our Lord Jesus, they are no less meant for us, His children.
Our Faithful God promised His chosen people protection for their long journey from Egypt to the Promised Land:
“See, I am sending My Angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared.”
But Loving and All-Wise Father, He also warned them:
“Be attentive to him and heed his voice. Do not rebel against him, for he will not forgive your sin. My authority resides in him. If you heed his voice and carry out all I tell you, I will be an enemy to all your enemies and a foe to all your foes.”
“My authority resides in him.” The Lord’s authority resides in His Angels! When we know that our Angel is guiding us to go one way and we choose the other path, we are not only defying him, but God Himself! Defy God Himself? When I believed with the mind of a child, I used to think the God of the Old Testament was an angry, punishing God who wasn’t very loving. As I began to grow up spiritually, I began to recognize how involved He has always been in His people’s lives, always faithful even in their unfaithfulness. He was always with them, never leaving them alone, even when they rejected Him and tried to block Him out of their lives. Always loving, He was ready to take them back, like the father of the prodigal son. That’s when I realized the God of the Old and the New Testament were of One Heart and one Mind. Father and Son and Holy Spirit in One God, One Love.
God, our Father, the One Who created us, knows us perfectly; He knows what makes us happy, what is best for us. He does not punish us here on earth; we punish ourselves. We suffer because we go against His Will; His Plan for us is peace and joy. Throughout Salvation History, God sent His Messengers to help us live in this world.
In the Old Testament, Angels appeared to humans seventeen times. Although the Old Testament does not re-fer specifically to Guardian Angels, there is no doubt who accompanied Jacob on his journey: “While Jacob was going on his way, Angels of God encountered him, and on seeing them he said, `This is God’s Camp…'”
Bob and Penny Lord are renowned Catholic authors and television hosts on EWTN, Global Catholic television. They are prolific writers about the Catholic faith, especially the Saints for which they have been dubbed “experts on the Saints.” Their website is http://www.bobandpennylord.com