5th April

Angelic Guidance

The angel told Daniel: Three more kings will appear in Persia, and then a fourth … Daniel 11: 2

Perhaps you have you been, or will be, involved in selecting or voting for someone to fill a vacant post? The Bible warns us against automatically choosing the person with the most charms. The story of the prophet Samuel choosing the future King David, who was regarded as the least of his large and talented family (see 1 Samuel 16) is a timely warning . The account of Columba’s choice of Aidan mac-Gabran to fill the vacant throne of Dalriada not only warns us against presumption, it also encourages us to believe that God always has ways of guiding us to the right person.

When the king of Dalriada died in 574 the question of the succession involved Columba, who was related to the royal household, and who was the leader of the now dominant religion. Columba went into retreat on the island of Hinba to seek God’s guidance. He felt that, since there were no sons, the eldest nephew of the deceased king should be chosen.

One night, however, Columba had a vision of an angel carrying a book which contained a list of the kings. Columba’s candidate did not appear in it, but his younger brother, Aidan, did. Columba read in the book that he was to instal Aidan as king, but he refused. Suddenly, the angel stretched out its hand and gave Columba a mighty slap on his side which left a mark for the rest of his life. The angel told him: ‘You must know for certain that I have been sent to you by God, and if you continue to refuse to install Aidan as king I shall hit you again’.

Columba was not amused by this vision, but it recurred three nights in succession.  After the third time Columba got the point. He sailed to Iona, consecrated Aidan as King, gave him a heartfelt blessing, and prophesied as to the the future of his dynasty. Aidan’s reign proved to be a period of sound government and of peace between previously warring regions.

O Michael militant king of the angels,
Shield your people with the power of your sword.
Spread your wing over sea and land
And bring us to our goal.

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