TRUTH TO TELL, I’m looking forward to meeting with a few angels, archangels, cherubim and seraphim some glad day in heaven. I’ve a host of questions I’d like to ask them … perhaps especially of St Michael. But in the meantime it’s a huge relief to me to know that there are no angels, in the literal sense, amongst the ranks of the clergy, and no angels, in the literal sense, in our earthly church congregations either. In the context of life in this world I’d feel perpetually shambolic, a walking failure, a disaster on legs — if I was bumping into an Archangel around every corner. Heavens! I’ve still so much to learn about the population of Heaven. I still have some more spots to be knocked off, and some more “eternal manners” to learn before I could be very comfortable, I think, at high table in the courts of God’s Everlasting Kingdom.

Actually, life as a parish priest would probably have been considerably easier for me had I been called forth from the ranks of the angels instead of from the line of boys queuing up for school dinners. But there it is. The bishops have only human beings to choose from. And come to think of it, that maybe makes life a little easier for the other human beings who make up the Body of Christ now at work in this world. For we’re all in the same boat, so to speak. We’re all being honed, fined tuned, having the rough edges rounded off a bit. Like the Apostles who spent time with Jesus in and around the shores of Galilee, we’re to spend some time with Jesus around the shores of our own neighbourhoods and beyond. And the daily encounters with him bring about a gradual dawning in us: that though we be no angels ourselves, we do company with them. When we think about it we recall that there are one or two angel-like people here and there, as well as the heavenly beings who join us when we pray, alone, or assembled as the Eucharistic community should and does, around the table of the Lord.

Yes. Just a plain man today. But to aspire to life in the nearer presence of God, here on earth and, some glad day in Heaven, is, actually, what we’re all here for!