The angel Gabriel (Lk 1:19-1:19)

“The angel

Replied.

‘I am Gabriel!

I stand

In the presence

Of God.

I have been sent

To speak to you.

I bring you

This good news.’”

 

καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ἄγγελος εἶπεν αὐτῷ Ἐγώ εἰμι Γαβριὴλ ὁ παρεστηκὼς ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ, καὶ ἀπεστάλην λαλῆσαι πρὸς σὲ καὶ εὐαγγελίσασθαί σοι ταῦτα·

 

Luke said that this angel pulled rank.  He replied to Zechariah (καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ ἄγγελος εἶπεν αὐτῷ) that he was the Angel Gabriel (Ἐγώ εἰμι Γαβριὴλ), who stood in the presence of God (ὁ παρεστηκὼς ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ), probably around the heavenly throne.  He had been sent to speak to Zechariah (καὶ ἀπεστάλην λαλῆσαι πρὸς σὲ), since he brought him these good tiding, this good news (καὶ εὐαγγελίσασθαί σοι ταῦτα), using the Greek word for gospel εὐαγγελίσασθαί.  Who then was this Angel Gabriel?  He was considered an archangel, or a higher angel than the others, maybe one of the top 7 angels.  He appeared to Daniel, chapters 8 and 9, where he explained the visions to Daniel.  He appeared twice in this gospel of Luke, here to Zechariah and later to Mary, chapter 1:28, both in this infancy narrative.

The Gift of Faith

Christian faith is a gift from God.  We do not earn it.  However, we can refuse this gift.  We must accept this gift with our mind, our heart, and our will.  Our whole person believes in Jesus Christ.  My mind believes that it is true.  My heart says I trust.  I will love and have a concern for others.  The initial Christian faith is a gentle longing, a search for meaning.  For some it comes in a blinding flash, like the apostle Paul.  Dorothy Day (1897-1980) found it working with the poor, while others see it in the presence of a priest or minister who witnesses to goodness, or at the time of a tragedy or death.  Still others grow up within a cultural community of Christians that grows with them throughout their life.  My faith in Jesus Christ is a continuous growing mysterious reality.

 

Silence before Yahweh (Zech 2:13-2:13)

“Be silent!

All people!

Before Yahweh!

He has roused himself

From his holy dwelling.”

When Yahweh was in his holy place, everyone had to be silent before the presence of Yahweh.  He was aroused in his holy dwelling place, both in heaven and on earth in his Temple.

The pretend god of Tyre will die (Ezek 28:9-28:10)

“‘Will you still say

‘I am a god.’

In the presence

Of those who kill you?

You are but a mortal!

You are no god

In the hands of those

Who wound you!

You shall die

The death

Of the uncircumcised,

By the hand

Of foreigners!

I have spoken.’

Says Yahweh God!”

Yahweh wanted to know if the prince of Tyre would still say that he was a god in the presence of those trying to kill him. The prince of Tyre was a mere human mortal and not a god. Those trying to wound him did not see him as a god. He was going to die the death of the uncircumcised ones at the hand of foreigners. Yahweh God had clearly spoken via Ezekiel. Some Christians have interpreted this as the fall of Lucifer or the fallen angel, the devil.

The kindness of God (Bar 2:27-2:28)

“Yet you have dealt

With us!

O Lord!

Our God!

In all your kindness!

In all your great compassion!

You spoke

By your servant Moses

On the day

When you commanded him

To write

Your law

In the presence

Of the people

Of Israel.”

Baruch pointed out that God was kind and compassionate. God had spoken with Moses when he gave the commandments to his people. Baruch seemed to imply that Moses wrote the commandments in the presence of all the people with a vague reference to Leviticus, chapter 26, and Deuteronomy, chapters 27-28.

Yahweh’s charge to Baruch (Jer 32:13-32:15)

“In their presence,

I charged Baruch,

Saying.

‘Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

Take these deeds!

Put both this sealed deed

Of purchase

With this open deed,

In an earthenware jar.

Thus they may last for a long time.’

Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel.

‘Houses,

Fields,

As well as vineyards

Shall again be bought

In this land.’”

Jeremiah than had an oracle of Yahweh for Baruch in the presence of all the people there. The Lord of hosts and God of Israel wanted Baruch to put both these field sale documents, the sealed one and the open one, into a pottery jar. So that both these documents would last a long time and not be lost. Since Baruch was like the secretary for Jeremiah, this seemed like a reasonable request. Then Yahweh said that this was like a sign of things to come when people would again buy houses, fields, and vineyards in this land. In other words, there was hope for things to come.

Hananiah predicts the end of the exile in two years (Jer 28:11-28:11)

“Hananiah spoke

In the presence

Of all the people.

Saying.

‘Thus says Yahweh.

This how I will break

The yoke

Of King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

From the neck

Of all the nations

Within two years.’

At this,

The prophet Jeremiah

Went his way.”

Hananiah the prophet boldly proclaimed in the presence of all the people that Yahweh said that he was going to break the yoke of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon from the neck of all the countries during the next 2 years. With that, Jeremiah had no response. He just left.

 

God is near and powerful (Jer 23:23-23:24)

“‘Am I a God nearby?’

Says Yahweh.

‘Am I not a God far off?

Who can hide

In secret places

So that I cannot see them?’

Says Yahweh.

‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’

Says Yahweh.”

There seems to be 3 oracles of Yahweh about his power and presence. First God, Yahweh, is near, close, or immanent. Secondly, he is far away, distant or transcendent. People cannot hide in secret places from him, since he can see them wherever they are. Finally, he fills both heaven and earth, since God is both omnipresent and omniscient.

Yahweh speaks (Isa 28:11-28:13)

“Truly,

With stammering lips,

With an alien tongue,

Yahweh will speak to this people.

He has said to them.

This is rest.

Give rest to the weary.

This is repose.’

Yet they would not hear.

Therefore the word of Yahweh

Will be to them.

‘Precept upon precept,

Precept upon precept.

Line upon line,

Line upon line,

Here a little,

There a little.’

Thus they may go.

They will fall backward.

They will be broken.

They will be snared.

They will be taken.’”

Since they have rejected Isaiah, Yahweh would send other people, the Assyrians, who would speak to the Israelites with stammering tongues in a foreign language. However, it is still the word of Yahweh. The weary were to get some rest, but they could not hear or understand what was going on. Once again we have Yahweh speaking to them via the Isaiah onomatopoeia saying about precepts, lines, and presence. However, the Assyrians would come, as they fell backwards, broken, and taken captive.

Moses (Sir 45:1-45:5)

“From Jacob’s descendants,

The Lord brought forth a godly man.

He found favor in the sight of all.

He was beloved by God.

He was beloved by the people.

Moses’ memory is blessed.

The Lord made him equal in glory

To the holy ones.

The Lord made him great.

Mosses brought terror to his enemies

By his words.

He performed swift miracles.

The Lord glorified him

In the presence of kings.

The Lord gave him commandments

For his people.

The Lord revealed to him his glory.

The Lord consecrated him for his faithfulness.

He sanctified him for his meekness.

He chose him out of all humans.

He allowed him to hear his voice.

He led him into the dark cloud.

He gave him the commandments

Face to face.

He gave him the law of life.

He gave him knowledge.

Thus Moses

Might teach Jacob the covenant.

He might teach Israel his decrees.”

Obviously, Sirach has Moses as one of these blessed famous godly men, who found favor in the sight of all people. He surely was a holy one as described in practically all the first part of Exodus, chapters 2-24. Moses was a later descendant of Jacob who was loved both by God and the people. However, Moses was a terror to his enemies, yet glorified in the presence of kings. He performed great miracles. The Lord gave him commandments face to face, as he was chosen and consecrated from all the people, because he was faithful and meek. He heard the voice of God in the dark cloud. He received the law of life and knowledge from God. Thus he was able to teach the covenant and the decrees to Jacob and Israel.