Angels on


Who's an Angel?

Written By Frederick Borsch

“You’re an angel.” Has anyone ever said that to you?

My mother said it to me when I was a tyke, at least now and then. “My little angel,” she smiled, patting my head. Probably once or twice I actually was a little angel wearing my wings in a Christmas pageant. Thinking back on it, especially when I was hurt or got myself into some trouble, I believe she was my angel.

Now we are older. Perhaps you have given up your seat to someone who seemed burdened, or you have let another in a hurry go ahead of you in line. “You’re an angel,” they said, just touching your shoulder. Or maybe you stopped to listen and offered some thoughtful advice. Or perhaps you only listened, while a friend figured things out. Maybe there was a time when you helped a colleague avoid a big mistake or enabled a young person to shape a career decision.

Or it has happened to you. Someone forgave you. Maybe they gave you a smile one day when you weren’t feeling good about yourself. Or some Samaritan has gone further and pulled you out of a ditch you got yourself into. One day, out in the hot desert of Southern California, I was on my way to the dedication of a new church when my car conked out. Two tough looking young men tossed my bishop’s regalia onto the truck bed and squeezed me into the cab of their pick-up and drove me to the church on time. “Say a prayer for us, padre.”

“How can I thank you?” I asked.

“Just pass it on,” they replied.

“You guys are angels,” I told them.

They looked surprised. But who knows? If what it means to be an angel is to be a messenger from God, then someone who comes to our aid, brings us the touch of God’s love, or perhaps offers us a good challenge or an opportunity to do the forgiving ourselves can be that messenger. And then we may pass it on.

And who knows, too, if there are yet other emissaries? Probably Mary did not blurt out, “You’re an angel” to Gabriel. In the way of human events, maybe—at least at first—she did not know for certain. Maybe only thinking back on it did she realize for sure that she had been visited by a messenger of God’s love and challenge.

Maybe, in different ways, that happens to all of us.

Copyright ©2006 Frederick Borsch