It is impossible to read about the events surrounding the conception and birth of the Lord without stumbling on angels. These messengers from God appear to be everywhere! Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, magi - everyone seemed to be receiving messages through these servants of God. Today's Gospel speaks of the encounter Mary had with Gabriel. One of the things that strikes me is that Mary does not seemed to be surprised by the visit, simply "troubled at what was said". I think I would have been more than a little freaked out by the presence of this heavenly messenger!
As the story continues, it seems like a normal exchange between two individuals. You could almost forget that one of them was not human. The puzzlement and questioning of Mary is given a reasoned response, and then Mary decides to comply with the request of God. Having done his job, Gabriel "departed from her".
I cannot but think that it would be great to have these angels to facilitate communication with God today. I dream sometimes that God simply sends one to ask me to do what God wants, rather than having to figure it out by myself. Ah, but then I read other parts of scripture and realize that, even with angels as messengers, doing what God wants is not usually easy, and even if you clearly know what it is you are being asked to do, that is no guarantee you will do it. Whether it was Jacob wrestling with the angel, or Zechariah not believing that what that same angel Gabriel said to him, the messenger does not guarantee acceptance of the message.
So, if angels are not being used by God to communicate with us today, how is He trying to get His message across to us? We can find the answer in the Incarnation itself. Once God took on flesh, we had more than mere words to tell us how to live. We had the example of Christ Himself. And God made sure we would not lose the example by inspiring those Evangelists to guard the precious stories of Jesus' time on earth and pass them on to future generations - first my word of mouth and eventually in written form. And so we can now open Sacred Scriptures whenever we are wondering what God wants us to do and read about the decisions Christ made, how He treated people, how He responded to situations, and discover in that example what God wants us to do.
It may not be the direct words of an angel, but it is even more powerful when we consider that it is God Himself showing us how to live!