Summary: The words "angel" and "evangelization" are closely connected. Our nation needs to hear the good news, and to get back on track to God's word.
Monday of 26th Week in Course
October 1, 2012
Every year the Church gives us a little cluster of days on which to contemplate the spiritual beings who affect our lives. Saturday, it was the feast of Ss. Michael, Gabriel and Rafael, the messengers of God who give protection, the good news of the Incarnation, and healing. It is helpful to consider also that the letters “angel” appear numerous times in the Holy Father’s letter, Verbum Domini, but never alone. They either appear in the Marian prayer, the Angelus, or in the word “evangelization.”
The reason for this coincidence is that angels always bring messages of God’s care and faithfulness, and that is exactly the evangelium–the good news. In Roman times, an evangelium was news of a great victory. The victory, which we heard Saturday in the Office of readings, is the triumphant battle of Michael and his angels over Satan. It is the cosmic equivalent of the victory of Jesus over sin and death on the cross, a victory we celebrate every time we make Eucharist, this re-presentation of the paschal mystery that confects the risen body and blood of our Savior.
Today we see one of the earliest depictions of the enemy, as an adversarial spirit–remember that Satana means enemy–roaming through the world looking for ways to make men doubt and curse God. “Have you seen my good friend, Job?” the Lord asks. “How faithful is he to me,” God goes on. “Doh!” the Adversary replies, “you give him health and wealth and family, so what does he have to complain about? Just let me at him and I’ll show you what an ungrateful jerk he can become overnight.” So God gives permission for the catastrophes, and Job takes it in sorrow, but without sin. And, tomorrow, the next installment shows how even when he is afflicted with a horrible disease, he refuses to sin.
But Job does question. “I’ve been good; why do I suffer?” The Holy Father’s letter helps us to understand that this is part of the dialogue of human and divine wills: “In this dialogue with God we come to understand ourselves and we discover an answer to our heart’s deepest questions. The word of God in fact is not inimical to us; it does not stifle our authentic desires, but rather illuminates them, purifies them and brings them to fulfilment. How important it is for our time to discover that God alone responds to the yearning present in the heart of every man and woman! Sad to say, in our days, and in the West, there is a widespread notion that God is extraneous to people’s lives and problems, and that his very presence can be a threat to human autonomy. Yet the entire economy of salvation demonstrates that God speaks and acts in history for our good and our integral salvation. Thus it is decisive, from the pastoral standpoint, to present the word of God in its capacity to enter into dialogue with the everyday problems which people face. Jesus himself says that he came that we might have life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). Consequently, we need to make every effort to share the word of God as an openness to our problems, a response to our questions, a broadening of our values and the fulfilment of our aspirations. The Church’s pastoral activity needs to bring out clearly how God listens to our need and our plea for help. As Saint Bonaventure says in the Breviloquium: “The fruit of sacred Scripture is not any fruit whatsoever, but the very fullness of eternal happiness. Sacred Scripture is the book containing the words of eternal life, so that we may not only believe in, but also possess eternal life, in which we will see and love, and all our desires will be fulfilled”.
This is the third day of the U.S. Church’s novena of prayer for our nation. Our country has, for a couple of generations, been looking for the answer to the great questions of life, and for its values, in the wrong places–in pursuit of pleasure and material wealth and power. The Church must, through a new evangelization, a new proclamation of the good news, witness to our nation that God’s will for us is conversion, healing, and renewal. Let’s continue to make that witness clear, and to pray that our people will listen to the Word of God.