Feast of the Archangels

John 1:47-51
Dn 7:9-10,13-14 / Psa 138

… you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. – John 1:51

Dear guardian angel set me free
From doubts that my sins are forgiven,
Your word is my full guarantee
To climb the stairway to heaven.

When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, He said of him, “Here is a true Israelite; there is no duplicity in him.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.” He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:47-51)

Reflection

Our Lord must have sounded sarcastic when He said of Nathanael, “Here is a true Israelite, there is no duplicity in him.” When Philip told Nathanael that they had found “the One about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth,” the latter had commented, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” (Jn.1:45-46) Perhaps sensing by the tone of His voice that Jesus had found out about his derogatory remark on His laid-back village, Nathanael could only inquire, “How do you know me?” He was all the more surprised when Jesus told him, “I saw you under the fig tree.” It was then that he acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God (Who sees and knows everything) – the very first apostle to do so. Jesus rewarded him with the promise, “you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Today, September 29, our Church celebrates the feast of the Archangels (Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael). These three foremost messengers of God figure prominently in the Bible, showing us that angels are just as important (if not more so) as the prophets and saints in the redemption of mankind. The Letter to the Hebrews cites the role of the angels in God’s plan of salvation: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?” (Heb 1:14)

Jesus made a reference about the “true Israelite” – Jacob, who dreamed about a stairway to heaven with God’s messengers going up and down on it (Gen. 28:12). But what did our Lord mean when He said, “the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man”? He was referring to Himself as the ladder to heaven. Remember He said, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn.14:6). When the Word – the divine Son of God– was made flesh and lived among us, He became the bridge, the vital link between heaven and earth. God brought the reality of His heavenly kingdom to us through our Lord Jesus Christ.

In Jacob’s dream, God showed him His majestic abode in heaven, thronged with a multitude of angels ready to do His bidding. In the case of Nathanael, our Lord assured him and all of us, His future followers that He would open the gates of heaven for us if we acknowledge Him as our Lord and Savior, and do the will of His Father. And He had accomplished this promise when He surrendered His life on the cross, resurrected from the dead and ascended into heaven. It is now up to us to follow the example of Nathanael, by shedding all our doubts and prejudices, and acknowledging Jesus as the Son of God, and our Way to heaven.

Angel of God, beloved messenger and protector, guide me in all my ways, for the Father has entrusted to you my protection and salvation. May His love ensure the success of your mission for my life. Amen.

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