The Association of Priests in the Opus Angelorum is for those who feel called by God to pastorally assist the faithful of the OA in their region and/or for those who want to find some spiritual support in their priestly ministry through clerical reunions of prayer and retreats. The monthly Circular Letter with meditations on the angels in Scripture is intended as an (unofficial) instrument of common formation and as a help towards deeper communion with the holy angels and among ourselves. It is directed to all bishops, priests and deacons who are particularly interested in collaborating with the holy angels and to the members of the Association itself.

XXIII, January/February 2017

The Universal Dimension of the Kingdom (cf. Lk 13:18-21)

Dear Brothers in the Priesthood!

On different occasions, we were already able to reflect on the universality of God’s work (cf. e.g. Gen 1:1; Circ. I/1996, etc.). The spirituality of the “Work of the Holy Angels” wishes not only to afford us deeper awareness of the angels, the good and the fallen ones, but also aspires to open our eyes for all creation and the union of all creatures. We reflected in the recent meditations on the angels as servants of the Holy Spirit and thus sharers in a common mission with us priests. Implicit herein is the mystery of unity in the entire creation. True enough, when the Lord explains through parables the Kingdom of God He refers not only to mankind; He includes all creatures. Let us look at two of them, which are mentioned in St. Luke – (almost out of the context, if we compare them with St. Matthew who placed them on the third and fourth place of the seven parables in Mt 13,31-33, thus giving them a central place in the series). St. Luke wrote:

“Then he said, ‘What is the kingdom of God like? To what can I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a person took and planted in the garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and 'the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.’ Again he said, ‘To what shall I compare the kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed (in) with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened.” (Lk 13:18-21)

1. The parables of the Kingdom of God

These are two very short descriptions of the Kingdom, one taken from a man’s sphere of activity, the other from a woman’s, like “men … out in the field; … women … at the mill” (Mt 24:40-41).

a) Two parables

Consider: not just man and women are considered separately. In the first parable, the Lord speaks of a man with a plant and animals, the birds; the subject changes three times: man, seed and birds. In the second we have also three subjects: The woman, the yeast and wheat flour (cf. J. Gnilka, Das Matthäusevangelium, I/1, 2001, p.494); a woman takes wheat from her world, the kitchen, and adds yeast to ferment it entirely and transform it.

Therefore, in the first Jesus reaches down to the world below us, to plants and animals, but also up to the angelic world, as the Lord himself compared the angels, albeit the fallen ones, with birds. He said once, “the birds of the sky ate it up,” that is the word as a seed; he explained: “the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts” (Lk 8:5,12). In the second parable, he mentions just or indistinctively “three measures” (therefore not just ‘a large amount’ as some translators want); three measures are an indication to the threefold creation, namely “heaven” or the pure spiritual creatures, the angels, and “earth” or the pure material creatures below man, and man as the third composed by spirit and matter through his soul and body (cf. Catechism, 325-327).[[These three paragraphs have practically nothing to do with your allegory. The reference is therefore misleading, since it offers no real support for the allegory. And I fail to see any justification in the Biblical passage for reading that into the text. It’s like saying the lost drachma the woman lost, means that she fell into mortal sin, because the 10 drachma signify the 10 commandments. The idea may touch me personally, but it is not theology and it is not exegesis]]

In both parables, we can observe a process and movement, the growth of the bush and the leavening of the whole “batch of dough”; it is, as if the first would just describe what happens or changes in time, while the second points to the mystery within, the transforming strength of the yeast. The first refers rather to an exterior quantitative expansion, and the second to an interior qualitative change.

b) The goal of universal union

The second parable is formed by just one phrase; it has among the seven parables in St. Matthew the central place. The process here described leads by “the Lord God of all creation” (Roman Liturgy of the Eucharist, Preparation of the gifts) to the union of all in and through grace (cf. St. Thomas Aq., Catena aurea, In Lk 13 n.4): A woman, the Mother Church, takes “yeast”, that is the treasure which is entrusted to her, namely all the graces Christ gained through his Incarnation, on the Cross and with His Resurrection, and passes them on to all three types of creatures through her blessings and the administration of the sacraments: She mixes this spiritual “yeast … with three measures of wheat flour” which is already chosen as the proper material for the Eucharistic transubstantiation (cf. General Introduction to the Roman Missal, # 320); it symbolizes all creation (ibid., 73), so that “everything”, might be “subjected to him,” (1 Cor 15:28) to Christ, the universal mediator; this is the “plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on earth.” (Eph 1:10)

Then, when “the whole batch of dough was leavened”, especially through the Eucharistic miracle, “the Son himself will (also) be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all” (1 Cor 15:28). St. John had a look into this future when he said: “I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, … it had a massive, high wall, with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed … The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.” (Ap 21:2,12-14)

2. Universality

We seldom find an explanation of these parables in this broader sense. This is due – I hope – merely to the fact that we are not familiar or insufficiently sensitive and attentive to the universal dimension of the Kingdom of God.

a) A way to go

We should certainly correct this, as the Church lives constantly in this dimension by the guiding light of the Holy Spirit, especially at every holy Mass. “With the company of Angels and Saints”, the triumphant Church in heaven together with the militant Church on earth, prays for the “departed brothers and sisters”, the suffering Church, and gives “all glory and honor” to the Triune God.

We should all become more aware of the presence of the holy Angels. The late Fr. Gabriel Amorth, coming rather from the awareness of the fallen angels, made the statement that there cannot be made a true theology without angelology (“la teologia sarà sempre monca, incomprensibile, fino a che non si sarà dedicata a porre in luce quanto riguarda il mondo angelico,” Un exorcista racconta, Ed. Dehoniane, Roma 91992, 21). Similarly, Fr. Serge-Thomas BONINO OP, President of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, wants to make us again aware of the existence of Angels and Demons (A Catholic Introduction, The Catholic University of America Press, Washington DC 2016), and of the familiarity man ought to have with the spiritual world due to his own spiritual soul.

b) A basis found

That “creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God,” we are made quite conscious by St. Paul: “We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now” (Rom 8:19,22). We are perhaps less familiar with St. Peter’s observation, namely, that “the good news … the holy Spirit sent from heaven,” are “things into which angels longed to look” (1 Pe 1:12), or with St. Paul’s teaching that “the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things,” that is “the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens,” (Eph 3:9-10), the holy Angels. (cf. Circulars of May and June in 2009).

St. Thomas is known as the “angelic doctor”, not just because of his angelic purity, and not only because of his metaphysical treatise on the angels (cf. ST p. I, qq. 50-64). He spoke about the angels on many occasions, because he saw them as an integral part, indeed, as a very active part of the entire plan of God. After discussing the three types of creatures, spiritual, material and man (cf. Summa Theologiae, p. I, qq. 50-64, 65-74 and 75-102), he considers the mutual relationship of these creatures (cf. ST p. I, qq. 100 -117): The good and fallen angels among themselves (106-109, 112), in relation to the material creatures (qq. 110, 115-116) and in relation to men (qq. 111, 113-114).

3. The oneness in Christ

To understand this universal dimension, and consider it theologically and, of course, also pastorally, we may first recall that the entire universe comes from the one God and is ordered to His glory and in some way must return to him.

One Kingdom for all

There is just one Sacred Scripture or “Word of God” already definitely complete in itself, even though the Holy Spirit, guiding the contemplation of the Church, only gradually leads us to the fullness of the truth (Cf_Jn 14:26). It is true that creation itself proclaims the glory of God (Ps19:2(.There are no other sacred texts from God – past or future -- for people outside of the Catholic Church. How grateful we should feel for divine revelation, for our place in the Church. May this make us aware that the graces distributed by God in and through the Church are destined to all mankind, destined to every single man and woman! As St. Paul declared, there is “one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph 4:4-6). The Church, like the Incarnation of God, is a unique divine gift to all mankind. Therefore, we should care that all may know about the Kingdom of God (cf. Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini, 93 and 95).

b) “The Eucharist joins heaven and earth”

The Catechism notes that the “state of division into many nations, each entrusted by divine providence to the guardianship of angels, is at once cosmic, social and religious.” (CCC 57); this reference to the angels was then cancelled for the official edition of 1997, however, “not because it is wrong”, explained Card. V. Fagiolo (in “30giorni”, Oct. 1997, p. 83). St. John Paul II saw the Eucharistic Jesus – just as the “yeast” in the parable – as center of the future culture and society: “For the Eucharist is a mode of being, which passes from Jesus into each Christian, through whose testimony it is meant to spread throughout society and culture” (Mane nobiscum Domine, 2004, 25). And, thus, Pope Francis pointed out: “The Eucharist joins heaven and earth; it embraces and penetrates all creation.” (Laudato si – On Care of our Common Home, 2015, 236).

4. Dear Brothers in the Priesthood!

Conscious of the true universal dimension of the Kingdom of God and the call connected to it, we will become more silent, more withdrawn from the noisy and deceiving surface. We find ourselves more and more involved in and surrounded by the presence of God, and urged to reach out for those who are not yet a living part of it. May the abundant grace of GOD, “the love of God … through the holy Spirit” (Rom 5:5) not been poured out in vain into our hearts.

Fr. Titus Kieninger, ORC

 

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