Friday, November 28, 2008

Angels II: Mediators of the Law

There's much to say about the angels as the bearer of the Mosaic law, that law which is dearer to me now that I have seen the face of the law. But I'll let Daniélou cite a splendid passage from Origen:
"This view of St. Paul's [Gal. 4:16, Col 2:8, Heb 2:5-8] is developed by Origen in his commentary on the Canticle of Canticles. The friends of the Bridegroom are the angels who instruct the Church — that is to say, the people of God — during the time of their espousals, the Old Testament. But the Church longs for the kiss of the Bridegroom, His coming in person. 'When I was preparing myself for my marriage with the Son of the King and the first-born of every creature, the holy angels followed me and ministered to me, bringing me the Law as a wedding present. Indeed it has been said that the Law was promulgated through the angels by means of a mediator (Gal. 3:19). But, since the world was already nearing its end and still His presence was not granted me and I saw only His servants rising and descending about me, I poured out my prayer to you, the Father of my Bridegroom, begging you to have pity on my love and send Him to me so that He need no longer speak with me through His servants the angels but might come Himself' [Comm. in Cant., 1.]".

Daniélou, p 10-11

The critical thing for me here is the link between the mission of the angels to bring the Law to Moses and the Jewish people, and Jesus giving the Law in Matthew 25 (see the Sunday of Christ the King).

* *
* ** *
* *

[A] commentator reacted to the first post in this series with the statement that "The anthropomorphism is natural and quite logical given the source" (the Fathers of the Church). Anthropomorphism, or the search for a human face, is a common theme in the history of man. As Fr. Meinrad, a Benedictine Monk, reminded me Sunday: the Psalms cry out again and again, show us your face, O LORD! The ancient Greeks imagined gods with human faces and human pettiness. And today, people listen toward interstellar space seeking a voice to answer the awareness that we have. And yes, people turn toward the animal world, to higher primates and mammals or even insects seeking an awareness, a desire, that is distinctly human. The human person desires to look upon the world with awareness and to feel the look of the real gazing back upon him and her with sentience. This profoundly human desire should not be brushed aside like a gnat, but should be recognized as a sign, something which points us beyond itself. And where does this sign point? Only those who take it seriously will discover.

The book of Genesis proclaims that which our heart know, that It is not good for man to be alone. So what happened? A man named Abraham and his wife Sarah at a particular time and place met three angels, emissaries of the Infinite Mystery, and the Mystery through these angels spoke promises to this couple and made of them a nation, a people. And now, a people in the desert, a people with a voice and a name, declares to us that we are not alone in the cosmos. It is not surprising to me that the Fathers of the Church would hold to the anthropomorphic form of angels. As serious and profound readers of the Sacred Scriptures, these fathers can only generate the Church today insofar as they have let themselves be generated by history, by those actions of God to reveal Himself to a particular people at a particular time. God has shown His face through the angels. He has spoken through the prophets. He calls us by name and has given us a kingdom. That is the message that has been given to us, and that may or may not have happened. If it happened, it changes everything.
Post a Comment