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. In this Angel Academy short story, the angels discover why humans lie and how to help them love the truth instead.
We were all confused. Sim, an angel classmate of ours, had what with her what the humans call a camera. She was pointing it at us telling us we should smile. So, we smiled and she pushed the button on the camera.
“What are you doing?” asked another student in the class.
“I’m taking your picture,” said Sim. “It’s what humans do to remember moments in time.”
The idea of such device was incredible to me. The other angels felt that way, too. You see, we are angels and don’t experience time in the same way humans do.
Sim went on, “So they keep these pictures with them to remember the past. It makes them happy. I read about it in one of the books in the Angel Academy library. You should learn more about it sometime.”
As we were speaking, we didn’t realized that our teacher had returned to class for another lesson.
“I’m glad you brought this up, Sim,” said the Archangel Barachiel, our teacher. “Today we are learning about lies. Specifically, the commandment: ‘you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.'”
“Sir,” said an angel classmate. “What does that commandment have to do with Sim’s camera?”
“Sim, may I see the camera for a moment?” said the teacher.
“Sure,” she said handing it to him.
The teacher then connected the camera to a projector to display the images on a screen in the front of the room. These were all things many human classrooms are able to do and we had them at the academy to help us understand what it is like for humans to go to school.
“Can everyone see the picture?” asked our teacher.
“Yes,” we replied looking at the picture that Sim had taken of us just moments ago.
Our teacher snapped his fingers. His wings jolted at the same moment as well, which distracted us from the image on the screen.
“What do you see now?” he asked.
We looked closely at the image. It looked the same to me at first.
“Wait! I’m missing!” said an angel in the back of the room.
“Are you sure you were in the picture?” asked our teacher.
“Yes, I was standing right there,” said the angel pointing to the image.
“He’s right,” said a classmate. He was standing right next to me.
“Oh, I see. Well, let me fix that,” said the teacher snapping his fingers and shifting his wings again.
“Now I am missing,” said another angel.
“Me too,” said another.
Sure enough, they were right. The image had changed again and this time two other angels were missing.
Barachiel snapped his fingers again and the image was restored. At least, it looked like it was back to normal anyway. I wasn’t sure if I could trust the image anymore.
“You wanted to know what this has to do with the commandment not to bear false witness,” he said. “Imagine if there was no picture to prove who was or was not here. How would we know who was in the room?”
“We could all tell you that. We would not need a picture,” I said.
“Yes, that’s correct. Here is what makes the humans different. Sometimes, they lie. They describe a different version of the past. It might be as simple as a testimony to who was or was not in a room.”
“Why would a human do that? Why would they lie?” asked an angel.
“I’m so glad you asked,” said Barachiel. “There are many reasons why humans are tempted to lie. It usually stems from a false sense of pride. They either lie to cover up their weaknesses or to cover up their sins.”
“What do you mean?” asked an angel.
“If a human was embarrassed by how poorly she did on a test, for example, she might be tempted to lie to make herself look better to her friends. She wants them to think she is smart, so she lies to hide her performance,” said the teacher.
“Or, let’s say a child breaks a rule. He doesn’t want to get in trouble, so he is tempted to lie to avoid that punishment,” he said.
“But what happens when the truth comes out?” I asked.
“That is when the lies backfire on them. Rather than looking good in the eyes of others, they are seen as a liar and untrustworthy. It is very difficult afterwards to earn back the trust of another human.”
I had to admit that I didn’t trust that image on the screen anymore. It was hard to believe what was true after seeing the false images.
“This sounds a lot like what happened to Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden, huh?” said an angel.
“Yes,” agreed the teacher. “They sinned and they felt shame. They tried to hide and they even made up excuses blaming others for their mistakes. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the Serpent. All of them were punished.”
“So all humans feel that same sense of shame?” I asked.
“Yes, unfortunately they do or they try to hide the same with lies. It is up to you to help them find freedom from that shame,” said the teacher.
“But how?” asked an angel.
“How do you help prevent humans from lying? Or how do you help humans find freedom from shame?” he asked.
“Both,” said the angel.
“The answer is the same: humility and love,” said Barachiel.
“Humble humans accept their weaknesses. They know they are sinners like everyone else,” said the teacher.
“How do you help someone be humble?” asked an angel.
“The simple answer is love,” he said. “When a person knows they are loved, they have no need to lie and hide their weaknesses or mistakes. They will feel the pain of failure, but they know they will be loved afterwards.”
“So, a humble human doesn’t hide from love,” I said partly to myself. “A humble human tells the truth even when it hurts.”
“Very good, Ganan,” said our teacher. “Help the humans remember the love of God that is greater than any pain experienced when others do not love them. Help the humans remember those that love them on earth and help them find the strength to tell the truth and risk the anger of the ones they love.”
“Can you give us another example?” said a student.
“Very well. A boy and his little brother get into an argument. The older brother hits his younger sibling in the arm. The younger boy cries to their mom. When the mom comes to investigate, the older brother says, ‘He hit me first!'”
“But that’s not true!” said Sim.
“It is a lie,” said the teacher. “When the mother asks the older brother about it, the boy looks to his angry mom then looks to his sobbing brother holding his arm in pain. Then the boy looks down. ‘No,’ he says and then he tells his brother he is sorry.”
The teacher paused and then asked, “Does anyone want to guess what his guardian angel did to help?”
“Prayed that God would help him feel sorry?” said a student.
“Helped him look closely at his mom and brother?” guessed another student.
“Both are correct. The boy saw his mother and his brother whom he loved. This was humbling. He felt sorry and he meant it,” said the teacher.
“Was the mom angry? Did he get punished?” I asked.
“Yes and yes, but the mom didn’t stop loving the boy. She loves him because he is her son, not because he is perfect,” said the teacher.
“Kind of like God,” said an angel.
“Exactly like God. God loves the humans because they are his. He loves them for who they are, not who they wish they were through the lies they tell to themselves and others.”
“What a comforting thought for the humans,” I said.
Barachiel smiled. “Okay, everyone gather around for another picture. Sim, this time you get in there, too.”
Barachiel picked up the camera and took another picture of the class. This time, everyone was truly in it.
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