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Browsing Fr. Joel Hastings

Angels / Why 12 apostles

What is the difference between cherubim and seraphim?  Are they both angels?

           There are said to be nine “choirs of angels,” within which two of these choirs are the cherubim and seraphim – and it is these two choirs that are of the highest rank in the hierarchy of angels.  According to the summary in the Catholic Sourcebook, cherubim are understood as “angels of wisdom.”  They are understood to be those that are bearers of God’s throne, carrying it as though they were a chariot.

 Meanwhile, seraphim are the highest of the choirs of angels, and are said “to burn” with love for God – and are therefore those that are nearest to Him and in direct relationship with Him. 

 In reflecting upon the choirs of angels, let me offer this opportunity:  the next time at Mass, listen carefully to the prayer referred to as the “Preface” (which usually begins with the words “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation”).  Some of the options of prefaces will contain lines to the effect of describing the various choirs of angels in worship, including words such as (as was prayed on September 14):  “Through him the Angels praise your majesty, Dominions adore and Powers tremble before you. Heaven and the Virtues of heaven and the blessed Seraphim worship together with exultation.  May our voices, we pray, join with theirs in humble praise, as we acclaim.”  These words characterize some of the various choirs of angels, each dwelling amidst and worshiping God in their right way.

 Why did Jesus pick twelve disciples as his followers?

           The number twelve is important to Jesus’ choice if for no other reason his relationship to Israel and the fulfillment of the promises of old.  For, in Israel there were twelve tribes – descended from the twelve sons of Jacob (whom you might remember that God later would call “Israel” in Genesis 35:10).  That Jesus comes as the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel, establishing His universal Kingdom for all eternity, it is fitting that he would choose twelve of his closest followers with whom the establishment of this Kingdom would be shared and whom he would later send out to proclaim His saving works (that is, the Gospel), to all the world – thus, in a visible way bringing His Kingdom to all nations.  Thus, the twelve apostles (or “disciples” as Matthew’s Gospel particularly refers to “The Twelve” in this way) are another sign of the fulfillment of God’s promises, bringing to completion what was first revealed to and through the twelve tribes of Israel.



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