September 29, 2015

Archangels

September 29, 2015:  SS. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels

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Pope Francis
Return flight Q&A:  What surprised you about the US?  The warm welcome, whether formal, exuberant, or expressive.  Also the religious ceremonies and the people's piety...
What's the challenge?  To work with the faithful, accompanying them through good times and hard times, in their joy and their bad moments. Staying close to the people.
Philadelphia has had a hard time with sex abuse. Why did you feel the need to offer compassion to the bishops?  I spoke to all the US bishops.  I expressed compassion because something terrible happened.  What happened was a great tribulation. Abuses are everywhere:  in families, neighborhoods, schools, gyms.  But when a priest abuses, it's very serious because the priest is to make that boy or girl grow towards God's love, maturity, and good.  When it's squashed, it's a betrayal of the Lord's call, nearly a sacrilege.  So the Church is strong on this and one must not cover these things up.  Those who covered it up are guilty.  The words of comfort were not to say, "Don’t worry; that was nothing," but "It was so bad; I imagine you cried hard."
Many priests sexually abused minors and have not asked their victims for forgiveness.  Do you forgive them?  If a person has done wrong, is conscious of what he's done, and doesn't say sorry, I ask God to take him into account.  I forgive him, but he doesn't receive that forgiveness because he's closed to it.  We must forgive, because we were forgiven, but if a priest is closed to forgiveness, he won’t receive it, because he locked the door from inside.  What remains is to pray that the Lord open the door.  That's how you explain people who finish their life hardened, badly, without receiving God's tenderness.
Do you understand victims or relatives who can’t or don’t want to forgive?  Yes. I pray for them. I don’t judge them.  I met a woman who told me “When my mother found out I'd been abused, she lost her faith and died an atheist.”  I understand her, and God understands her.  I’m sure that God received that woman.  What was abused was her own flesh, her daughter's.  I pray and ask God to fix it; God is a champion in finding solutions.
Do you really want a solution for the divorced and remarried?  How do you respond to those who fear the reform creates 'Catholic divorce'?  My document closed the administrative path to divorce.  The Synod fathers called for streamlining of the annulment process.  Benedict XIV introduced the double sentence to stop abuses in his time.  Pius X wanted to streamline the process but didn’t have the time or opportunity.  My document facilitates the processes and timing, but it's not divorce because sacramental marriage is indissoluble, and the Church can't change that.  The trial is to prove that what seemed to be a sacrament wasn't one, e.g. for lack of freedom, lack of maturity, or mental illness....  Young people don’t want to get married.
We were told you wanted to show your support for the Little Sisters of the Poor and their court case.  Do you also support individuals who say they can't in good conscience abide by some laws or discharge their duties as government officials, for example in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  Do you support those kinds of claims of religious liberty?  Conscientious objection is a right that's part of every human right.  If you don't allow others to be a conscientious objector, you deny a right.  Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it's a human right.  If we want to make peace, we have to respect all rights.
What do you think about the relationship of the Holy See with China?  China offers the world many good things. I would very much like to go there.  I hope there is possibility of good relations.  We're moving forward.  Having a friend of a great country like China would be a joy.
Do you feel powerful after your success in the US?  I don’t know whether I had success, but I'm afraid of myself.  Power is fleeting.  It’s important if you can do good with power.  Jesus defined power as humble service; I must make progress on this path because I feel I don’t do everything I should do. That’s the sense I have of power.
Will there be women priests?  That can't be done.  St. John Paul II, after intense discussions and long reflection, was clear.  Not because women don’t have the capacity.  In the Church women are more important than men, because the church is a woman, the bride of Christ.  And the Madonna is more important than popes, bishops, and priests.  We're late in elaboration of the theology of women. We have to move ahead with it. 
Is it good for the Church if the Pope is a star?  Stars are beautiful to look at, but the Pope must be the servant of the servants of God.  How many stars go out and fall?  It's fleeting, but being servant of the servants of God doesn’t pass.
Read
  • Dn 7:9-10, 13-14  The Ancient One took his throne, clothing and hair bright; thousands ministered to him.  One like a son of man came on the clouds of heaven, was presented before the Ancient One and received kingship.  His dominion is everlasting; it won't be taken away.

  • Rv 12:7-12ab  War broke out between Michael and his angels and the dragon.  The dragon, the ancient serpent called Satan, was thrown to earth,  From heaven:  “Salvation and power have come, and God's Kingdom, and his Anointed's authority.  The accuser of our brothers is cast out, conquered by the Blood of the Lamb.  So rejoice!”

  • Ps 138:1-5  "In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord."  I'll thank you, for you heard me; I'll worship at your temple.  You've made your name and promise great and built up strength within me.  All kings shall thank you and sing of your glory.

  • Jn 1:47-51  Jesus re Nathanael:  “Here's a true child of Israel, with no duplicity.”  Nathanael / Jesus:  “How do you know me?” / “I saw you under the fig tree.” / “Rabbi, you're the Son of God, King of Israel.” / “You believe because I saw you under the fig tree?  You'll see greater things.  You'll see heaven opened and God's angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Reflect
  • St. Gregory's famous homily on the Archangels:  “Angel” denotes function, not nature. Heavenly spirits are only called angels when they deliver a message; archangels are the ones who proclaim supremely important messages, as Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary the greatest of all messages.  Some angels are given names to denote the service they perform.  Whenever a powerful act must be performed such as battling Satan, Michael is sent, making clear no one can do what God does.  So too Gabriel, "God's strength," was sent to Mary to announce the humble One who would quell the cosmic powers.  Raphael, "God's remedy," touched Tobit’s eyes to banish the darkness of his blindness.
    • Michael ("Who is like God?") is mentioned in Rv as leader of the heavenly host.  Patron of soldiers
    • Gabriel ('God's strength') appears in Dn to explain some of the prophet’s visions, and was also the bearer of the Annunciation to Mary.
    • Raphael ('God heals'):  In Tb, he heals Tobit of his blindness.
  • One Bread One Body:  "The coming of Raphael":  The archangel Gabriel is recognized in the Angelus, where we think of the Annunciation.  Pope Leo XIII composed the St. Michael Prayer, making the archangel better known and appreciated. The prayer is about the reality and importance of spiritual warfare.  We need St. Raphael to do for us what he did for Tobit:  open our eyes, to the need for evangelization and spiritual warfare.  When we let him open our eyes, we'll see better why we need Gabriel and Michael and give them more than lip service.
  • Passionist:  We are given a picture of division in the ranks of the angels.  Division is a sign of our times:  in politics, religion, society, the economy, among races, within families....  But in a disaster we temporarily suspend divisions amid our common experience of suffering.  The Cross of Jesus unites us in a common bond.  Our vocation calls us to “hold high the Cross” and stand up for the unity we share as God's children. 
    Vision of the Son of Man
    Jackson with contributions by Hart
    © 2005, The St. John’s Bible
    St. John’s Univ., Collegeville, MN
  • Creighton:  Words, pictures, and music can express love, hate, and other messages.  The Archangels were messengers of God’s plan and presence.   Angels express the Son of Man's power and glory.  Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel are powerful messengers of God’s protection (Michael), communication of God's plan (Gabriel), and healing (Raphael); symbols communicate their speed, power, and authority (wings, war gear, size, multiple eyes, trumpets...).  Ancient manuscript work enables us to receive God's word; this form of communication has been brought into the present by calligrapher Donald Jackson and others in the St. John’s Bible.  The illustration accompanying today’s 1st reading can transform our reception of God's Word.  As we gaze at the image and follow the patterns of embossed gold (for God's presence), the words and art allow us to participate in the experience of the angels.  We're called to stand in awe of God to worship and accomplish his mission as the angels are.
  • DailyScripture.net:  When Philip brought Nathanael to see Jesus, Jesus revealed to Nathanael how God looks in the depths of our hearts and invites us into communion.  Nathanael was startled.  The fig tree was a symbol of God's peace and blessing; it provided shade and a place to retreat, pray, and reflect.  Rabbis gathered their disciples there.  Nathanael recognized Jesus was the Messiah, and the Lord offered him the gift of friendship with God and access to God's throne.  In Jacob's dream, God had opened a door for Jacob that brought him and his people into a new relationship with God.  God revealed his angels, showed him the throne of heaven, and promised him that he and his descendants would dwell with God.  Angels are God's servants and messengers, created for and through Christ.  Heb speaks of the role of the angels in God's plan:  spirits sent to serve, for those to obtain salvation.  Angels are also protectors and guardians as well.  We're not alone in our struggle against sin and evil.  Jesus' promises that he'll be the ladder uniting earth with heaven.  Jesus is the true stairway to heaven.  In his incarnation, God makes his dwelling with us and brings us into the heavenly reality of his kingdom.  Jesus' death on the cross opens the way for us to come into a new relationship with God as his adopted children.  Jesus opens the way for each of us to ascend to heaven and bring heaven to earth in our daily lives.  God's kingdom is present in those who strive to do his will....
Dress legend
  • White shirt:  Today's liturgical color; the Ancient One's clothing was bright as snow, hair was white as wool (1st reading)
  • 'Angel' pin:  Archangels.  "In the sight of the angels I'll sing Your praises" (psalm).  "You'll see God's angels ascending and descending" (gospel)
  • 'Crowns' tie:  His kingship shall not be destroyed (1st reading); All kings shall thank you (psalm); "You're the King of Israel" (gospel)
  • 'Blood drop' pin:  They conquered the Accuser by the Blood of the Lamb...  (alt. 1st reading)
  • 'Girl with heart' pin:  I'll thank You with all my heart (psalm)
  • 'Phone' tie bar:  When I called, you answered (psalm)
  • 'Tree' pin:  "I saw you under the fig tree" (gospel)
  • 'Lamb' tie bar:  "They conquered him by the Blood of the Lamb" (alt. 1st reading)