September 29, 2016


September 29, 2016:  SS. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels

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Legend below

The work of all who represent workers in the field, who help refugees safeguard their dignity, reflects God’s mercy and is a sign that evil doesn't have the last word.  Arms and oppression, hidden interests, and violence still wreak devastation, and we haven't been able to end the suffering and human rights violations.
Violence begets violence, and we feel caught up in a spiral of arrogance and inertia.  This evil that grips our will and conscience should challenge us.  Why do people continue to abuse power and seek revenge and violence?  The recent attack on a UN humanitarian convoy is an experience of the mysterium iniquitatis, evil in people and history that needs to be redeemed.
Fix your gaze on Christ, Mercy incarnate, who conquered sin and death.  "The limit imposed upon evil, of which man is both perpetrator and victim, is ultimately the Divine Mercy" (Pope St. John Paul II).  The answer to the drama of evil lies in the mystery of Christ.
    • 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.”
    • 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.
        I tre Arcangeli e Tobias/ Botticini
      • Creighton: All scriptural references to angels point beyond angels to God.  'Angel' (ἄγγελος, 'messenger') points to the Sender, God. Each of today's archangels' names is a sentence about God:  'Mi cha el' (“Who is like God?”), 'Rapha el' (“God heals”),  'Gabri el' (“God is my strength”); all say “What I do is not about me but what God is doing through me.”
      Today's gospel is business of angels pointing beyond themselves is wonderfully illustrated in today’s gospel reading, Jesus encounter with Nathanael (whose name also points to God:  “gift of God”) says, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel,” Jewish names for the expected Messiah, but not yet confession of divinity.  Jesus subtly corrects him:  “You [plural] will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man,” alluding to Jacob's dream of a stairway, between earth and heavens, with God's messengers (angels) going up and down. When Jacob awakens, the Lord repeats to him the promise to his grandfather Abraham, about his descendants becoming a blessing to all; Jacob then observes “this place is God's house, heaven's gate.”  Jesus applies Jacob's dream to himself as Son of Man, the one who fulfills Daniel's vision of “one like a son of man” inheriting God's kingdom.  The dream points to the incarnation:  Jesus, Word made flesh, risen Lord, the temple of God, is the ultimate connection between heaven and earth.  May we appreciate Christ our Lord as the “place” of full connection between divine and human, the new embodiment of all the tabernacle and temple stood for. This feast helps us join the angels praising God for our redemption in Christ.
      • One Bread, One Body:  "Lives that need angels":  The Lord wants to show his love for you by sending archangels and other angels to be more active in your life.  For that, we need lives of discipleship, deep and courageous love, holiness, and evangelization, in which the Holy Spirit is active.  When the Spirit is moving, Michael wields his sword, Gabriel announces God's message, and Raphael guides and heals....
      • Passionist:  “Angels are created spirits without bodies” (Baltimore Catechism 35).  “The good angels help us by praying for us, by acting as messengers from God to us, and by serving as our guardian angels” (42).  “Everything said about [angels] in the Bible proclaims the marvelous truth:  God is concerned for us in a thousand ways.  The names of the angels tell us this.  Gabriel means 'strength of God'; Raphael, 'God’s healing'; Michael, 'Who is like God'” (“Dutch Catechism”).  I can't develop scholarly reflections on archangels, but I can experience God’s love.  May the angels always be with us and walk happily with us into the arms of God.
        Vision of the Son of Man
        Jackson with contributions by Hart
        © 2005, The St. John’s Bible
        St. John’s Univ., Collegeville, MN
      •  "You'll see the angels of God":  In meeting with Nathanael, Jesus reveals how God looks at each of us and invites us into communion with him.  Nathanael was startled Jesus knew and understand him before he said anything.  The fig tree was a symbol of God's peace and blessing; it provided shade and refreshment for prayer and reflection.  Rabbis gathered their disciples under its shade to teach them from Scripture; they said, "He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit."  Maybe Nathanael was reflecting on the promised Messiah King and drifted into a nap like Jacob.  It was revealed to him that Jesus was the Messiah, "Son of God, King of Israel,"  Jesus offered him the gift of friendship with God and access to his throne.  In Jacob's dream God opened a door that brought Jacob and his people into a new relationship with God; God revealed his angelic host and the throne of heaven and promised Jacob that he and his descendants would dwell with God.  
      Angels are God's servants and messengers, "mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to his voice," "ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation."  They belong to Christ and were created for and through him.  They also protect and guard:  "He will give his angels charge of you to guard you."  The armies of heaven fight for and with us and with us in the spiritual battle for our hearts, minds, and wills.
      Jesus promises Nathanael he'll be the ladder that unites earth with heaven; he proclaims he's the fulfillment of the promise to Jacob.  Jesus is the true stairway to heaven; in his incarnation and life, "things of heaven are wed to those of earth, and divine to the human" (Exsultet, referring to Easter).  Jesus opens the way for us to come into a new relationship with God as his children; he opens the way for us to "ascend to heaven" and bring "heaven to earth" in our daily lives. God's kingdom is present in those who seek him and do his will....
        • 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.
      Dress legend
      • 'Fire' pin:  His throne was flames of fire... (1st reading)
      • White shirt:  Today's liturgical color; the Ancient One's clothing was bright as snow, hair was white as wool (1st reading)
      • 'Serpent' tie pin:  Ancient serpent (alt. 1st reading)
      • 'Heart' pin:  I'll thank you, Lord, with all my heart (psalm)
      • 'Angel' pins:  Today's 3 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, 'lamb' tie bar:  They conquered the Accuser by the Blood of the Lamb...  (alt. 1st reading)
      • '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)

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