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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

September 29th: Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, archangels
1st Reading (Dan 7:9-10.13-14): As I watched: Thrones were set up and the Ancient One took his throne. His clothing was bright as snow, and the hair on his head as white as wool; his throne was flames of fire, with wheels of burning fire. A surging stream of fire flowed out from where he sat; thousands upon thousands were ministering to him, and myriads upon myriads attended him. The court was convened, and the books were opened. As the visions during the night continued, I saw one like a son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; when he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, he received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.

Or (Rv 12:7-12ab): War broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, who deceived the whole world, was thrown down to earth, and its angels were thrown down with it. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: «Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night. They conquered him by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; love for life did not deter them from death. Therefore, rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them».
Responsorial Psalm: 137
R/. In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.
I will give thanks to you, o Lord, with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth; in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise; I will worship at your holy temple and give thanks to your name.

Because of your kindness and your truth; for you have made great above all things your name and your promise. When I called, you answered me; you built up strength within me.

All the kings of the earth shall give thanks to you, o Lord when they hear the words of your mouth; and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord «Great is the glory of the Lord».
Versicle before the Gospel (Ps 102:21): Alleluia. Bless the Lord, all you angels, you ministers, who do his will. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Jn 1:47-51): Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” 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.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

“You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man”

Cardinal Jorge MEJÍA Archivist and Librarian of Holy Roman Church (Città del Vaticano, Vatican)

Today, in the Feast of the Saints Archangels, Jesus manifests to his Apostles and to everyone else, the presence of his angels and their relationship with Him. They are in the Lord's celestial glory, where they eternally 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 on his trip to Mesopotamia, the dwelling land of his ancestors, slept over a stone and 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 relationship between the Divine communication and the active presence of the angels.

Thus, Gabriel, Michael and Raphael appear in the Bible as present in earthly events and, as Saint Gregory the Great tells us, bringing to men messages which will decisively change our lives through their presence and their very actions. They are precisely named “archangels”, that is, princes of the angels, because they are sent on 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 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.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • "When man becomes truly spiritual and transformed by the divine love that purifies him, he receives the union and the loving illumination of God with a softness similar to that of the angels" (Saint John of the Cross)

  • "Fighting is a daily reality in the Christian life: in our heart, in our life, in our family, in our churches... If we don't fight, we will be defeated! Fortunately, the Lord gave this task mainly to the angels: to fight and win" (Francis)

  • "Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan... led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets... Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus himself (cf Lk 1:11.26)" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, nº 332)