VATICAN CITY, MARCH 1, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The angels are a significant part of the Gospel and we should call upon them often, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope affirmed this today before praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.
Reflecting on the Gospel reading from today's First Sunday of Lent, the Holy Father noted how St. Mark tells of the angels ministering to Christ as he was tempted in the desert.
"He, who did not sin and cannot sin, submits himself to trial and thus can have compassion for our infirmities," the Pontiff said. "He lets himself be tempted by Satan, the adversary, who had opposed himself to God's salvific plan for men from the very beginning.
"In the brevity of the account, in the face of this obscure and darksome figure who dares to tempt the Lord, the angels, luminous and mysterious figures, fleetingly appear. The Gospel says that the angels 'serve' Jesus; they are the counterpoint to Satan."
The Bishop of Rome went on to mention the role of the angels in the Bible: "We find these figures throughout the Old Testament who help and guide men in the name of God. Just consider the Book of Tobit, in which the figure of the angel Raphael appears to assist the protagonist through many vicissitudes. The reassuring presence of the angel of the Lord accompanies the people of Israel through every event, good and bad.
"On the threshold of the New Testament, Gabriel is sent to announce to Zachariah and Mary the joyous happenings that are the beginnings of our salvation; and an angel, whose name is not mentioned, warns Joseph, directing him in that moment of uncertainty.
"A chorus of angels reports the glad tidings of Jesus' birth to the shepherds, as the glad tidings of his resurrection will also be announced by angels to the women. At the end of time the angels will accompany Jesus in his glorious return."
Thus, Benedict XVI observed, "we would take away a significant part of the Gospel if we left aside these beings sent by God to announce his presence among us and be a sign of that presence."
"Let us," he said, "call upon them often, that they sustain us in the task of following Jesus to the point of identifying ourselves with him."
And the Pope asked in particular for angelic intercession as he and the Roman Curia began today their annual Lenten spiritual exercises.
"Let us ask them, especially today," he said, "to watch over me and my co-workers."
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