Daily Meditation: "You will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending..."
Gospel text (Jn 1,47-51):
When Jesus saw Nathanael coming, He said of him, "Here comes an Israelite, a true one; there is nothing false in him". Nathanael asked him, "How do you know me?". And Jesus said to him, "Before Philip called you, you were under the fig tree and I saw you". Nathanael answered, "Master, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!". But Jesus replied, "You believe because I said: ‘I saw you under the fig tree’. But you will see greater things than that. Truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man".
"You will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man"
Today, in the feast of the Saints Archangels, Jesus manifests to his Apostles and to everybody else, the presence of his angels and their relation with him. They are in the Lord's celestial glory, where they perennially exalt the Son of man, who is the Son of God. They surround him and are at his service.
This "Ascending and descending" reminds us of the episode of the Patriarch Jacob, who, while sleeping over a stone, on his trip to the dwelling land of his ancestors (Mesopotamia), he had the vision of the angels “descending and ascending” by a mysterious ladder which reached from earth to heaven, and of Yahweh renewing to him the glorious promises which He had made to Abraham and Isaac. We should notice the relation between the divine communication and the active presence of the angels.
Gabriel, Michael and Raphael appear, thus, in the Bible witnessing men's earthly vicissitudes and bringing them —as St. Gregory the Great tells us— with their presence and their own deeds, those communications that can definitely change our lives. They are precisely named “archangels”, that is, princes of the angels, because they are sent to the greatest missions.
Gabriel is sent to announce to the Blessed Virgin Mary the virginal conception of the Son of God (cf. Lk 1:28-30). Michael fights against the rebel angels who are cast out from Heaven (cf. Rev 12). He announces, thus, the mystery of his divine justice, which is also exerted against those rebelling angels, while assuring us of his victory —and ours too— over the Evil. Raphael accompanies the young Tobias, protects and advises him, and, finally, heals his father (cf. Tob). This way, we are told of the presence of angels beside each one of us: the angel we name the Guardian angel.
Let us learn from this celebration of the archangels “ascending and descending” upon the Son of man, that they serve God, but they serve him for our sake. They glorify the Holy Trinity, and they do it while serving us. And, consequently, we realize how much devotion we owe them and how grateful we should also be to the Father who sends them for our own good.
+ Cardinal Jorge MEJÍA Archivist and Librarian of Holy Roman Church
(Città del Vaticano, Vatican)
Audio: September 29th: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels