Friday, July 12, 2019

“Ego Sum Gabriel!”

Copyright © Edward Riojas

It should give us comfort that Zechariah had a motor-mouth. All of us have done the same thing at some point or another and every saint has been born from the same sinful stock, so we shouldn’t be surprised that Biblical folks had foibles. In Zechariah’s case, you know the scenario well: Regret came rushing in even as the words poured out of his head.

Zechariah was a devout priest. Both he and his wife were given the rare Scriptural descriptor of being “...righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord.” Not everyone gets that kind of Biblical treatment. The aging couple, however, were childless, and it’s evident that they often prayed for children.

It was Zechariah’s turn to serve as priest before God in the temple, and by lot he was chosen to burn incense. It was also his turn to be a screw-up.

An angel appears to Zechariah and tells him that his prayers have been heard. I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I’d like to THINK that would clinch it for me – an angel standing in front of me and telling me my prayers have been heard. Who doesn’t want that?! What is more, the angel spells it all out for Zechariah, giving him everything he needs, short of printing out a spreadsheet and calendar.
"Gabriel" 2019. Edward Riojas.
Pen and ink on paper.
Copyright © Edward Riojas.
Image may not be reproduced.

But Zechariah wants proof, and that’s when things fall apart.

I can almost hear the angel’s lungs filling with air just before letting the priest have it. This point in the conversation was the inspiration for one of my entries in the Good Shepherd Institute's art exhibition, “With Angels and Archangels.”

"Gabriel" is intentionally static. Instead of setting up the theatrics of a Temple scene, I placed the angel Gabriel in a stylized, frontal pose that confronts the viewer. We get a little peek, through Zechariah’s eyes, of an annoyed angel. If his answer to proof isn’t clear enough, I’ve spelled it out in red for the viewer. “Ego sum Gabriel! qui asto ante Deum!” (”I am Gabriel! I stand in the presence of God!”)

And, yes, Zechariah was cured of his motor-mouth. For a while, at least.


Giclée prints of “Gabriel” are available from the artist. For more information or to order prints, please e-mail the artist at

 Sizes/prices for prints for “Gabriel:” 9.25” x 17” / $75  ·  12” x 22” / $100

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