Faith at Work XVII

December 2005

One of the more unusual questions that I have faced at the Science Park was: "So what do angels look like?"; maybe it looked as though I should know, and it was a serious question; they wanted to incorporate a little angel into a computer animation. Together, we thought about the various references in the Holy Bible, although their research had gone far wider than that, in particular into other faith's portrayal of bringers of light and such like. We thought about wings, about halos, about shining garments or the shining faces of people who were bringing good news from the divine; Moses and Jesus both fit into that category. Often though, the description only contains the messenger's name and the message itself without going into any detail about appearances.

After recognising an angel, the next question, which wasn't asked, might have been: "How would you converse with an angel?"; judging from the birth narratives of Jesus in the gospels, the first thing you need to do is to overcome your fear. Gabriel, when addressing both Zechariah and Mary, tries to calm them down affirming their faith in God. He says to Zechariah that his prayers for his wife Elizabeth to bear a child have been answered and to Mary that she has found favour with God. In both cases the message about having a child is totally unexpected, Elizabeth because she was said to be barren and advanced in years, Mary because she knew not a man, and they question how this can be.

So, if you've recognised your angel and been attentive, a further question may be: "How do you respond to an angel's message?"; Zechariah was struck dumb until the birth had taken place and spoke next after he had written John as the name his son had to have, as he had been instructed by the angel. Mary, however, accepted her role as given by the angel and went straightaway to share the good news with her cousin Elizabeth. In the gospel record, Elizabeth takes on the role of "angel" through being filled with the Holy Spirit, recognising the privilege that Mary had been given to bear the son of God and sharing in her joy.

The words that the angel Gabriel uses to address Mary and the words that Elizabeth subsequently uses in addressing Mary at that point have come to form the first, and earliest, part of the Hail Mary:

Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with you,
Blessed are you among women
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus

This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
This page was last updated on 2005-11-01

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