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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Spirituality: The Angel Gabriel

Every time I hear the Annunciation story, I begin to wonder about the fill-in-the-blank moments. For instance, I ponder what was in like when the Trinitarian God summoned the angel Gabriel and told him of the divine plan. Ignatius of Loyola has a person contemplate a conversation in heaven among the three Persons of the Trinity at which point the Second Person offers to take on the mission, but what about the conversation with Gabriel?

Yes, Gabriel is a messenger, an angel. Did he wonder why, of all the angels, he was called for this special role? He still has to receive the news from God of the salvific plan.  I can imagine him being blown away when he hears God's vision for the world and he comes to know of God's heartfelt compassion for the peoples of the world. Gabriel must have to take a while to digest what is being told to him. His emotions must be running sky-high as God is doing something extraordinary. They have waited long enough because they see how far the people have moved away from God and they are expectantly waiting for the day when they will be drawn close.

I'm sure Gabriel must have needed to spend time figuring out the ways he would approach the young girl from Palestine and tell her the tremendous news. I'm sure he did not want to come on too strong. God never acts with force or violence. Gabriel must have approached her successively so that she would have been familiar with him. Otherwise, the news might be too awe-invoking. After all, she is just a young woman.

I wonder how he approached her and had an initial conversation to break the ice. He must have needed courage. And once the conversation ended, he must have departed in a way that provided her with consolation and courage. I imagine that he was deeply invested in her answer and that he would protect her after she became pregnant. I reckon that he stayed close for a while because he cared for her and for the child who was being formed. I'm sure he worried about them and Joseph. Gabriel's job was not finished. More announcing would soon be done.


  1. My first reaction is: I thought I was the only one to have these moments when I ask myself these sorts of questions :-)
    My second reaction is: Thank you for making Gabriel more 'real.' Until now I am afraid to say I saw him as some sort of Hollywood-like Heaven hunk... A gorgeous shimmering over-sized being. A sort of NBA person coming with wings.
    Now I have to go and apologize to him/her (angels have no gender right?), imagine the depth of his understanding, his tact, and kindness.
    I also must return to this scene of the Annunciation, a moment I love ever since I realized that each one of us also experience such moments in our lives, and revisit it with new eyes and a new heart.
    Thank you!

  2. Thanks, Claire. I have fun in my prayer when my imagination moves in these ways. I seem to get a whole new perspective on the Scriptures as they become wholly personal to me. The come alive in the present. It is important for me to see these figures with emotions and feelings. God has the details figured out. The evangelists did their best to paint us a story. I'm glad you liked it.