Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
June 29, 2020
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, on this special feast, we pray with Psalm 34.
This psalm has the most delightful introduction:
Of David, when he feigned madness before the King, who drove him out and he went away.
The Psalm refers to a time when young David was fleeing from Saul who was jealous of David’s impending takeover as king. David seeks harbor with King Achish, but later realizes that was a mistake. Fearing the King, David pretends for be insane in order to be dismissed as harmless.
Serious as the situation is, picturing it makes me smile. Have you ever wanted to get away from someone who had hijacked you into a one-sided conversation? You might pretend you had an appointment, or medical necessity, or anything just to get away.
Peter, in our first reading, doesn’t need pretense to escape the wrathful imprisonment of King Herod. All he needs is the angel which God has sent him.
Thus, Psalm 34 is a most appropriate choice for the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. It is the first psalm in which an angel is mentioned and here, as in Acts, she is a rescuer.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear the LORD, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the one who takes refuge in God.
I’ll be honest, I neglect my angels. I believe in them. I trust them. But basically I forget about them unless I’m scared out of my mind about something. In those situations, I call out loudly to them to make sure their “encampment” around me is still intact!
I think it would be a lot better to get to know our angels, and let them get to know us. Inviting them to accompany us in prayer might be a good way to start. And, of course, remember that prayer so many of our parents taught us. We never grow too “mature” to whisper it at night. Maybe even Peter said something like it in that dark prison long ago.
Angel of God, my guardian dear,
to whom God’s love commits me here,
Ever this night be at my side
to light, to guard, to rule, to guide.
St. Peter And The Angel - Denise Levertov Delivered out of raw continual pain, smell of darkness, groans of those others to whom he was chained-- unchained, and led past the sleepers, door after door silently opening-- out! And along a long street's majestic emptiness under the moon: one hand on the angel's shoulder, one feeling the air before him, eyes open but fixed... And not till he saw the angel had left him, alone and free to resume the ecstatic, dangerous, wearisome roads of what he had still to do, not till then did he recognize this was no dream. More frightening than arrest, than being chained to his warders: he could hear his own footsteps suddenly. Had the angel's feet made any sound? He could not recall. No one had missed him, no one was in pursuit. He himself must be the key, now, to the next door, the next terrors of freedom and joy.
Music: Gloria in Excelcis Deo – J.S. Bach
(I thought one of the angels’ greatest hits, first recorded over the hills of Bethlehem, might be appropriate today)