Acts 12:1 – 16
At that time King Herod caused terrible suffering for some members of the church. He ordered soldiers to cut off the head of James, the brother of John. When Herod saw that this pleased the Jewish people, he had Peter arrested during the Festival of Thin Bread. He put Peter in jail and ordered four squads of soldiers to guard him. Herod planned to put him on trial in public after the festival. While Peter was being kept in jail, the church never stopped praying to God for him.
The night before Peter was to be put on trial, he was asleep and bound by two chains. A soldier was guarding him on each side, and two other soldiers were guarding the entrance to the jail. Suddenly an angel from the Lord appeared, and light flashed around in the cell. The angel poked Peter in the side and woke him up. Then he said, “Quick! Get up!”
The chains fell off his hands, and the angel said, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” Peter did what he was told. Then the angel said, “Now put on your coat and follow me.” Peter left with the angel, but he thought everything was only a dream. They went past the two groups of soldiers, and when they came to the iron gate to the city, it opened by itself. They went out and were going along the street, when all at once the angel disappeared.
Peter now realized what had happened, and he said, “I am certain that the Lord sent his angel to rescue me from Herod and from everything the Jewish leaders planned to do to me.” Then Peter went to the house of Mary the mother of John whose other name was Mark. Many of the Lord’s followers had come together there and were praying.
Peter knocked on the gate, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer. When she heard Peter’s voice, she was too excited to open the gate. She ran back into the house and said that Peter was standing there.
“You are crazy!” everyone told her. But she kept saying that it was Peter. Then they said, “It must be his angel.”
As Christians, as believers in the Holy Trinity, we cannot turn away from a belief in angels. We have no option but to believe in them as the real and tangible intermediaries of God. We are taught about them all throughout the Bible, and while it has become a classic argument to say about a belief in something ethereal, they cannot be real because they cannot be seen, well, then, we can’t see thoughts or feelings, either. Are we to not believe in them either because we cannot touch a thought or hold a feeling in our hands?
To limit our acceptance of things to those things that can be sensed is to call God a liar.
We have all known someone who has been given a miraculous release, if not from jail, then from death, or a destructive relationship, or an unhealthy lifestyle. In contemplation, we may even look over our own lives and see a time or times when, through unseen hands, our burdens have been eased, our lives saved.
I was brought up in northern New England, in a very small village connected to a not much larger town. And I had three brothers, two older, one younger. I grew up, essentially, having no real fear of other people or of young men.
While going to school in northern New Hampshire, a place very much like Maine, I decided one day to go somewhere. But, at that moment, I had no car, so I decided to hitchhike. I’d never done it before, but I knew it was being done. In fact, at the time (yes, I’m that old) it was a most popular form of transportation.
What would be the harm?
I was picked up by two young men going beyond where I was headed. They were quite personable. We chatted, smiled, and laughed. But as the car passed the spot where I wanted to get out, the locks on the doors were depressed.
Silence settled over the car.
Instead of getting hysterical, I prayed. I prayed for intervention. Intervention here. Intervention now.
After only a few minutes of prayer, the car pulled over to the side of the road, the locks were released, and I heard the most glorious words, “You can get out now.”
As I read the story of Peter, I smile with a tear in my eye.
It makes all the difference in the world to know absolutely that God has the means to send us help.
Here are some words about angels from Francis de Sales:
Let us become very intimate with the angels. Often think of them as being invisibly present with you, and above all, love and reverence the angel of the diocese in which you reside; those of the people with whom you live and meet frequently. Invoke them often, praise them constantly, and implore their help and assistance in all your affairs, spiritual or temporal, so that they may be of assistance to you in all your needs.
Thanks be to God.