Feast of Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, archangels
Daniel 7: 9-10, 13-14
John 1: 47-51
Judaism, Christianity and Islam, all three faiths speak about angels – messengers of God. From time to time even popular culture references the existence of angels and their supposed "mysterious" power to intervene in our human lives. Yet how are we as Christians, better yet, how are we as Catholic Christians to understand angels??
Jesus answered and said to him, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this. Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."
I find this scripture passage very telling. We as human persons cannot understand angels except through the lens of Jesus Christ.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Second Edition), the Church clearly teaches: "Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels…they belong to him because they were created through and for him. They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan…" (cf. 331) "From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word Incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels." (cf. 333) The angels proclaim the joyous news of Jesus’ birth – the Incarnation. They protect Christ in his infancy, minister to him in the desert and uphold him in his agony in the garden. Again, the angels proclaim the good news of the Resurrection and will be with the Lord at the end of time.
As such, Jesus shares with Nathaniel the secret that he too will somehow be a witness to the experience of the angels. Like the angels Nathanael, a "true child of Israel," will take on the same role of the angels in their service to the Son of Man. He too will be called to proclaim the joy of the Incarnation, God sharing His very self with all of humankind. He too will be called to serve Christ in his sisters and brothers in the infancy of their new lives, in their deserts of doubt, in their agonies of disappointment. Nathaniel to, like the angels, will proclaim that Christ is conqueror of death and Lord of Life!
And while the archangels the Church celebrate today have specific roles and functions…Michael, protector, Raphael, healer, and Gabriel, divine messenger…Nathaniel , like us, will have the privilege to serve in all of those roles!
May these archangels and all the angelic powers continue to support us in the work Christ has called us to do. Like these angels may we see ourselves as servants of Christ. May our lives be so centered on Jesus that we too may hear our Lord say to us… "Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him."
Patrick Quinn ([email protected]) is the director of Planned Giving at the Passionist Development Office in Chicago.