Back

Vol. II, Aug. 1996

 

"I Send My Angel With You" (Gen 24,7)

Dear Brothers in the Priesthood!

God called and guided Abraham after his father’s death. He taught him what it means to have a father and what it means to be a father: He cares for his son personally and through his servants.

1. Abraham’s fatherly duty towards his son ends when he has established Isaac's family, when he has provided him with a wife of the same belief. He charged one of his servants under oath to fetch a wife for his son from his own country and family, not simply for ethnic reasons, but more fundamentally for reasons of faith. Descended from Sem, his family preserved the blessing of the belief in Yahweh (cf. Gn 11,10-31), whereas the Canaanites, the descendants of Cham, fell under the curse of sensual perversity and idolatry (cf. Gn 9,22. 25-27). - The servant saw the responsibility; he presented the difficulty which might arise through the free will of the woman: Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follow me! He proposed as a solution that he then take the son back to the ancestral lands. - But Abraham, faithful to the divine call, trusted in the promise of God and assured his servant: The Lord, the God of heaven, who ... swore to me, ... He will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son (Gn 24,5.7).

To us priests too God entrusted, under oath, the care for His sons, especially for their faithfulness to God. That servant's difficulty is ours: The free will of man reduces us to helplessness. We preach and they listen, but continue to sin; we visit the sick and stand at deathbeds, but they may not be disposed to reconciliation with God ... - How often we are tempted to offer God other solutions and even try other ways! But we learn here, like this servant, from Abraham, the vicar of the one who gave us the mission, not to fear the difficulties, and also not to trust in ourselves, for God will send His angel before us. Even if we seem to be like David before the gigantic, cold and iron Goliath, we should consciously advance as he did in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel (1 Sam 17,45). Through His Angels he can give us favor in the eyes of souls (cf. Ex 12,36), and this He will do all the more in the measure that we share David's will: that all the earth may know that there is a God (1 Sam 17,46).

2. These are the necessary attitudes for us according to the conversation between Abraham and his servant:

a) We need to be free: first through self-denial, then through active renunciation, finally through the permanent spirit of detachment from all, from material goods, from cars and house, even from books, from position and the guaranteed income, from family and friends, from our own opinions and understanding of matters, and finally from our own will. The promise of obedience we made as a sign and concrete free resolution includes this all: the decision and firm will to be of GOD ALONE, trusting of course in God’s help.

b) We need to reason, for God does not take our nature and natural faculties but wants to use them Himself: we have to know His Will by knowing Scripture and the Church’s doctrinal and moral teaching, we have to discern and judge any step we take,and we have to make decisions, but always according to His Will and Command.

c) We need to trust, whenever we come to our limits, when all tell us: "You are not able", "They don’t care for your help!", "You have no talents for this undertaking", "You should not tempt God". Yet, when we nevertheless verify: "I have to ..., for I am still acting according to my priestly duty!", "... this is what I am ordained for!", "..., that is what God has sent me for.", "..., this is where God wants to be present through His neotestamentarian servant, the priest."

d) We know, the priesthood is not a human profession, it is not the goal of a career, but a call and a mission given by God with Whom we can be united by faith in Him from below and through His powerful presence from above. The "contract" offered by Jesus was clear: Follow Me! And know, Apart from Me you can do nothing (Jn 15,5). So finally we need to wish to do only God’s Will, then we can ask for Divine help and angelic assistance and count on it.

3. Abraham’s servant started his mission with the confidence in God's promise to Abraham and in his assurance: He will send His Angels before you! How often do we come to the point where we are tempted to say: "Lord, what else yet? How long still? I can no more!" Here we should lift up our head; for each death-line is an invitation to rise for the new life: To step out of our limits and into the dimensions of God! To overcome nature by opening up for the grace of God! To take off the human mantle and put on the angelic virtues! To become part of the heavenly army and to share in the power of God, who says to each one who follows Him: Son, you are always with Me, and all that is mine is yours! (Lk 15,31)

Scripture describes how Abraham’s servant watched with a certain interior distance, whether the Lord had prospered his journey or not; and how he confessed this secret before the people and received assurance: It is the Lord (v. 21; cf. vv. 40.48 and 56), Emman’u-el - God with us (Mt 1,23), who in the presence and through the interference of the Angel is the strength of the servants of God and the secret of success in the Kingdom of God.

The people of God by its election from among the rest of mankind (Ex 14,13.19; 23,20-32) and Moses in his angelic mission was again and again assured by the Lord of the presence of the Angel: Lead the people to the place of which I have spoken to you; behold, My Angel shall go before you (Ex 32,34, see the similarity with 23,20; Ex 33,2). The trust in this promise of the Lord led to the common belief in the Guardian Angel as it is confessed by people of the daily life in Israel, e.g., by a father of a family (Tob 5,16) or by the praying early Christian community (Acts 12,15). The Angel assured God’s presence to St. Joseph and to Our Lady (Mt 1,23; Lk 1,28). Our Lord Himself had put all His trust in this presence of God from the very beginning of His mission (cf. Heb 10,7; Jn 4,34); this was His strength in the hours of despair: You will be scattered, every man to his home, and will leave Me alone; yet I am not alone, for the Father is with Me (Jn 16,32). Behold the Father's answer to His prayer in the Garden: He sent an Angel to strengthen Him (cf. Lk 22,43).

4. Dear Brothers in the priesthood, this little event in the life of the chosen people is so eloquent. It touches us at the roots of our priestly life, in moments of deep solitude and of consolations. It assures us that we are never alone, forgotten or put aside. Although men may act so towards us, God and His Angels never will! We recall this union of Jesus every day in the Sacred Liturgy of Jesus: "Through Him and with Him and in Him ... "; more often we desire it for all our people greeting them: "The Lord be with you!" - and we receive it back from each single faithful: "And also with you!" - a salutation which will surpass any imagination if we just would say it with more faith and trust and add the awareness of the presence of the mediating multitude of Angels (cf. CCC 302-324).

Let us deepen our confidence in the presence of God in our life through the Holy Angels through special gratitude in concrete events.

Let us try to be with God through deeper recollection and check our behavior if it is worthy of the presence of God and His Angels and if it gives testimony of it to the people.

Let us preach about God-with-us-through-His-Angels!

Let us wish each other again and again:
   "The Lord be with you - through His Angels!"

 

Fr. Titus Kieninger, ORC