Imagine if angelic beings went to school to learn to become guardian angels. They would probably have a lot of questions about the strange things that humans do on earth. They would need to study humans closely and learn the best ways to lead them into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. The following story is a continuation of a fictional lesson about Lent. You can read part 1, a lesson on Ash Wednesday here. This lesson helps the angel (and the children who read it) understand why fasting for forty days helps humans resist temptation and sin.
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The Angel Academy
A Lesson on Lent
The angels arrived in class for their next lesson on Lent. They learned about the importance of Ash Wednesday during the last lesson, but they still had a lot of questions.
They understood the significance of the ashes. They got to see a human realize his faults and the need for humility before God, but that was only the first day of Lent. What about the rest of the season?
Their teacher, the archangel Barachiel, arrived ready to provide the next lesson.
“Teacher,” said a curious angel. “Why do the humans celebrate the season of Lent for forty days?”
“Why do you ask?” said Barachiel.
“Well,” the angel said thinking for a moment. “I want to be the best guardian I can be. Forty days is a long time for humans. They can barely stand to wait for anything, bless their hearts. How can we possibly help them resist temptation for such a long time?”
Barachiel smiled. “Well, go back to the reason for these forty days. The Holy One places a lot of significance on the number forty for the humans. Their Bible has many stories with the number forty in it and you can ask Noah, Moses, and Jonah all about those events.”
The angels all whispered together in excitement. They very much enjoyed speaking with those three holy humans in heaven.
“Quiet down now,” said their teacher. “There is one more story that really sets the foundation for the Church’s season of Lent. Can anyone tell me what that is?”
A very studious angel replied, “Oh, I know!”
“Yes?” said Barachiel.
“Jesus the Son in the desert!” said the angel.
“Yes, that is correct,” said the teacher. “Now, let us go and examine this story more closely.”
Suddenly the class of angels appeared in a desert.
“Look!” one of the angels shouted.
Pointing up ahead they saw a man walking, but he wasn’t alone. What they saw would be invisible to a normal human. They could see what led the man into the desert.
“It’s the Spirit!” said another angel.
“And that’s no ordinary man,” said another angel in the class. “That’s the Son! That’s Jesus!”
The rest of the angels agreed excitedly.
“Nooo!” shouted another angel. “Look over there!”
The other angels turned to see what was coming from the other direction.
“It’s him,” said an angel.
“The Fallen One!”
“Yes,” answered Barachiel. “It is him who the humans call Satan or the devil. But do not fear. We are only watching this event in the past. It has already occurred. He is not really here with us.”
“Sir?” asked one of the students. “Why is Jesus the Son alone? Why is there no angel to guard him?”
“For that,” said the teacher, “let us listen to the last of the devil’s three temptations.”
The scene blurred and now they stood along with Jesus and the devil on the parapet of the temple in Jerusalem. “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here,” said the devil.
Before he could finish, the class of angels all moved to catch Jesus in fear that he would fall. It was their guardian instincts that moved them there. These instincts made a lot of sense when the devil continued quoting from the Book of Psalms:
“For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,'” and “‘With their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against the stone.'”
“That was about us!” said one of the angels.
“Yes,” said Barachiel. “The Holy One sends us to guard and guide and lift up his children. Now, let’s listen in.”
“You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test,” Jesus said and with that the devil disappeared from there.
The class then found themselves in their heavenly classroom again.
“So, what does all this have to do with Lent?” asked one of the angels.
“One of you asked where the angels were to help him. What did you see instead?” asked the teacher.
“The Spirit,” said an angel.
“Correct. You will indeed guard and guide, but you will not be alone. You and the human you guard will be led by the Spirit. The humans will make sacrifices during Lent. They will give something up. They will willingly choose to go out into their own deserts and you will be there to guard them along with the help of the Lord, the Holy Spirit. This will help them resist the temptations of the Evil One and his servants.”
“But won’t the fasting and giving things up make our work harder?” asked an angel.
“On the contrary,” said their teacher. “Their sacrifices, if they make them without pride or complaining, will strengthen their resistance. They may be hungry, for example, but they choose to be hungry just like the Lord Jesus. Because it is a choice, they will see the resistance to sin as a choice, too.”
“So when they give something up for Lent, they are building up the strength they need to resist the temptations of the Evil One?” asked an angel.
“And his demons!” another angel added.
“Yes,” said Barachiel. “Lent is the season in which the one you guard will grow in holiness through the Spirit and learn to resist temptation. Your job will be easier during this season, believe it or not, because the one you guard will work harder than ever at becoming more like the Son.”
“I can hardly wait to get started,” said one of the angels.
“And you thought that humans were impatient!” said Barachiel. “All in due time, my angel. You will be ready to become a guardian soon.”
Barachiel bid them farewell and went off to teach another class of angels.