328 The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls “angels” is a truth of faith. The witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition. (Catechism of the Catholic Church)
Angels play a big part in the Christmas story.
St Luke records how the Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary the miraculous Conception of the Son of God in her immaculate and virginal womb – (Luke 1:26-38).
St Matthew the Evangelist tells us that it was an angel who brought the announcement of the upcoming birth to St Joseph. The angel explains that Mary has done nothing wrong – she has conceived through the Holy Spirit, to give birth to Jesus, the Saviour. Angels will appear in dreams two more times to Joseph, telling him when to leave Bethlehem, and when it is safe to come back.
“Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.” (Matthew 1:18-24)
At the Birth of the Divine Christ Child in Bethlehem, St Luke recalls the Angels’ tidings “of great joy” to the shepherds on the hills of Bethlehem. One can only imagine the utter amazement and thrill of these humble men when the skies were brilliantly lit up by the heavenly hosts of angels singing out this wondrous news. The promise was being fulfilled at last; the long-awaited Messiah had visited His people to redeem them from their sins!
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favour rests”.” (Luke 2:8-14)
333 From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God “brings the firstborn into the world, he says: ‘Let all God’s angels worship him.'” Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church’s praise: “Glory to God in the highest!” They protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in the garden, when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been. Again, it is the angels who “evangelize” by proclaiming the Good News of Christ’s Incarnation and Resurrection. They will be present at Christ’s return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgement. (CCC)