Vol IV Nov, 1998


David "like an Angel"

Dear Brothers in the Priesthood!

    1.  In last month's texts (Judges 6 and 13), we reflected upon the vocation of man through the holy Angels for God and for the sake of mankind! In the current texts, in the Books of Samuel, we find the expression 'like the Angel' four times: 1) 'My Lord the king (David) is like the Angel of God' (2 Sam 19,27).  2) Achish said to David (1 Sam 29,9): 'I know that you are as blameless in my sight as an Angel of God.' Then, 3) a 'handmaid' said to David (2 Sam 14,17.20): 'My Lord the king is like the Angel of God to discern good and evil.' And 4), 'My Lord has wisdom like the wisdom of the Angel of God to know all things that are on earth.' Now, if the call to God comes through the Angel of God, it also includes the call to the proximity of the Angel. Can it be that God not only calls through the Angel but also to  the Angel, and that this call, ultimately, means to 'be like  the Angel'?

    To approach God, means to come nearer to the Angels of God. In eternity we will be with the holy Angels, in heaven we will have a 'spiritual body' and therefore be similar to the spiritual nature of Angels (cf 1 Cor 15,42-50), 'like Angels' (Mt 22,30), 'equal to Angels' (Lk 20,36). Does this resemblance not start already in this present life? God himself starts our life by calling an Angel, who will stand at our side throughout our life, we have to understand our life as a call to God and to the communion with God and the Angel as well. May we see, then, the goal of our life as consisting also in coming 'to be like the Angel'?

    2. The goal of Christian, indeed, of human life is really very high.

    a) We can refer to the proper words of Our Lord who said: "You must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 4,48)! And: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 15,12), "... that you should do as I have done to you" (Jn 3,15; cf Phil 2,5). Similarly, we can speak of the ideal 'to become like Mary': 'the followers of Christ ... raise their eyes to Mary, who shines forth to the whole community of the elect as a model of the virtues' (II. Vatican, LG 65 and John Paul II, Mother of the Redeemer, n. 6). Even St. Paul enjoined the faithful to become like himself when he said: "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ!" (1 Cor. 11,1; cf. 4,6; 2 Thess 3,7-9). - Therefore, the question seems to be presented in this way: Is 'to be like an Angel of God' an ideal of Christian life?

    b) The third petition in our Lord's Prayer: "Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven" is commonly understood as a reference to the exemplary obedience of the Angels; the Angel's way of acting serves as a model, which man should strive to imitate. Man should fulfill the will of God 'as they do'. And when the Lord Himself indicated the future state of man as 'being like the Angels' (Mt 22,30), then He not only wanted to describe the state of life after death, but also indicate the complete fulfillment which the human soul finds in the measure that it be free from creatures and focused on God, as the Angels are totally in heaven. This concentration on God can and should start already now in this life here on earth, at least, by ordering all things intentionally to His glory. In this wise, man is able to approach the Angels and can try to become like them already now!

    3. Let us, therefore, try to see first the general and yet concrete possibility of man being like an Angel, and then discover the effective fruitfulness.

    a) The contact between Angel and man can only be of a spiritual nature since the Angels are pure spirits. Man can call upon them and cultivate a certain communion with them, for they too 'are personal and immortal creatures' (Catechism 331). A true spiritual union between two persons comes about when two individuals agree on a given matter, that is, they share the same ideas in some topic.  Such union may also reach beyond the intellect or mind, to the heart, the center of the person. In such moral union, love is the bond; here there is a communion of goods of ideas, of talents and even of graces; it is a sharing through which the two come nearer to each other even in what they are as persons! They influence one another in their personality and perfection.

    b) This can also be said of Angels and men: According to the intensity of our interest in God we can call upon the holy Angels and find in them friends of the 'same mind'; the suggestions they will give us in prayer, the understanding of God and His plan discovered in meditation through their mediation; the strengthening of our will through their influence, through the humble devotion we foster towards them, the firmness in our orientation towards the eternal destiny with God, ... and many similar fruits show a growing approach and assimilation of man to the Angel. The principal change, of course, must be taking place in man, since the Angel does not grow in Charity nor can his beatific vision change. This relationship between man and the Angel develops as a true friendship between two persons of the 'same mind'. Here is a union in the unfathomable depth of the 'hearts', which will be manifested more and more in the individual's words and actions, that is to say, in his virtues and the development of his character.

    To this Sacred Scripture refers when David is not just called similar to the Angel, but indicates some common traits of this friendship. It is said: David 'has wisdom like the Angel of God', he is called 'blameless as an Angel', and able to 'discern good and evil'. These concrete similarities express more than just a contact between two spiritual beings.

'blameless as an Angel', refers to angelic purity; 'wisdom like the wisdom of the Angel of God to know all things' tells about the depth and breadth of angelic knowledge, and 'to discern good and evil like the Angel of God' reveals the uprightness of heart, for surely the decision of the Angel of the Lord, of David is for the good here and now, is for God's sake!

    These examples allow us to comprehend the fruits of man's contact with the Angel: Here is a union in spirit in which both see and understand from the same point of view and decide in the same way. Giving such a case, we must say that man is 'like an Angel'. Supposing that an individual consciously adverts to this help of the holy Angels and holds the ideal of the saintly Angels before his eyes, cultivating in prayer and practice this union with the Angel, we are surely entitled to say: he has become like an Angel.

    4.  Dear Brothers in the priesthood, every saint in heaven, whether Angel or man, is an 'interpreter' a manifestation of God's infinite mystery of Holiness. With humility and gratitude, we should accept these living interpreters, these mirrors of the mystery of God; through them we can more easily approach God. Does not the Preface of the Mass of the Angels exclaim: 'In praising your faithful Angels and Archangels, we also praise Your glory, for in honoring them we honor You, their Creator. Their splendor shows us Your greatness'. On our pilgrimage to God, we should strive to understand them, to imitate and finally become like them, as St. Cyprian expresses, 'becoming co-heirs of Christ and like the Angels, and possessing the Kingdom of Heaven in joy with the patriarchs, apostles and prophets'(Essay to Fortunatus). Through them we shall find God, in Whom alone we shall find our ultimate and totally individual and unique 'original'of which we are an 'image' in Christ.

    Alongside this extraordinary praise of King David, we also know about his several falls. Here, it is fitting to refer to this, in order to have clear consciousness about our present state of life: Even if we take seriously the ideal to 'be like Jesus' or 'as our Father in heaven', and even being bound by the sacramental seal to God Himself, it is not excluded, that man can still fall in this life on earth. All the more, then, any help should be welcome, especially that which is so near, so alive and so firm and secure as is the help of the holy Angel in person. Let us make our own the prayer of Pope Pius Xl placing it in the living context of our friendship with the holy Angels, assured that they will help us live up to the ideal set before our eyes in David, namely to 'be like the Angel of God':

Fr. Titus Kieninger, ORC

Let us pray to God for our bishops and priests
that they may be Guardian Angels for the faithful.

Lord, You make Your angelic saints
and Your servants into blazing flames.
Graciously send to Your people,
who are Yours and want to be Yours,
priests who are clad with justice to the joy of Your people.

May they be true Angels for Your people:

May they be Angels of purity,
preferring Your divine love to all other forms of love,
even to tender and holy human love.

May they be Angels of love,
renouncing the joys of an earthly family
and building up instead another, a larger family,
whose father and pastor they are and whose special love
is reserved for the little ones,
for the unhappy, the weary and the abandoned ones.

May they be Angels of light,
enkindling in the human minds the light of faith in You,
so that it will shine like the morning stars.

May they be Angels of sacrifice,
consuming themselves like a sacrificial flame
for the good of their brothers and sisters in Christ.

May they be Angels of counsel and fortitude,
consoling others in sorrows, supporting them in struggles,
and showing them the heavenly path of virtue
and duty when they are oppressed with doubts.

May they be Angels of grace,
purifying and lifting souls up and uniting them with You,
by giving the Bread of life to them.

May they be Angels of peace,
opening to those who breathe their last,
the gate to heaven where You are the infinite light
and joy of hearts forever and ever, Amen.