THE ANGEL OF THE LORD

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION

(Part 52)

THE ANGEL OF THE LORD

April 15, 2015

Today’s readings:

Acts 5:17-26

Psalm 34:2-9

John 3:16-21

What is evangelization all about? It is proclaiming the salvation won by Jesus on the cross so that people might believe in him and be saved. This is according to God’s plan, the very intent of the Father in sending His Son into the world. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16).

Jesus won for us our salvation, but we need to accept him in faith as Savior and Lord. Otherwise, what he has done has no positive consequence on us, and we remain condemned for our sins. “Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (Jn 3:18). Thus our work of sharing Christ and proclaiming the gospel is of the utmost importance. It is literally about life and death.

Evangelization is not easy work, because the world is in sin and darkness. Evil is rampant and widespread. “And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil.” (Jn 3:19). Because of the world’s preference for evil, many people will resist the gospel, and others will be openly antagonistic. Many will not want to be called to repentance for sin and be told of condemnation if they persist in sin. “For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.” (Jn 3:20). They will not only not accept the gospel, but will hate those who proclaim it.

And so the religious leaders of the time “laid hands upon the apostles and put them in the public jail” (Acts 5:18). But wonder of wonders, “during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out” (Acts 5:19). It was an astonishing miracle. The court officers reported to the Sanhedrin, “We found the jail securely locked and the guards stationed outside the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” (Acts 5:23). What was impossible had happened.

For the work of evangelization, since we are sent by Jesus himself, we are equipped, graced and empowered. But aside from the Holy Spirit, God provides something else for our protection, care, guidance, provision and support. These are the holy angels. Remember that evangelization engages us in spiritual warfare, where we contend with demonic powers, and they are legion. Angels help clear the way for our work, as they accompany us. “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.” (Acts 5:20).

Is that not comforting and reassuring? “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he saves them.” (Ps 34:8). Remember how God helped the Israelites as they fled from the Egyptian army? “The angel of God, who had been leading Israel’s army, now moved and went around behind them. And the column of cloud, moving from in front of them, took up its place behind them, so that it came between the Egyptian army and that of Israel.” (Ex 14:19-20a).

As evangelizers, we are part of the armies of God. As such, we have angels to lead us, to protect our flanks, and to join battle with us. But here is an important point: we must ensure we indeed are part of the armies of God, by being holy warriors. We fear the Lord and he saves us. How do we live as holy warriors?

* We must be men and women of intense and unceasing prayer. “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be always in my mouth.” (Ps 34:2).

* We must confidently place ourselves under His mantle of protection, and rest assured in His abiding presence. “I sought the Lord, and he answered me, delivered me from all my fears.” (Ps 34:5).

* We must humbly come to Him in all our troubles (of which there will be many), with confidence in His saving help. We must not look to our own devices or on the ways of the world. “This poor one cried out and the Lord heard, and from all his distress he saved him.” (Ps 34:7).

We are evangelizers, and thus we are apostles and warriors. It is our great privilege to do this divine work. “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the stalwart one who takes refuge in him.” (Ps 34:9).

*     *     *