Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Feast of Archangels
Today is a celestial celebration of the three Archangels Gabriel, Raphael and Michael. They each have special gifts and feature in the Bible. Archangel Gabriel is known as being God’s messenger to Mary that she had been chosen by God to bare the long awaited Messiah (Luke 1:26-38). Archangel Raphael brings healing by restoring sight to Tobit and driving out the evil spirit that dwelt in Sarah, the future wife of Tobit’s son (Tobit 12:15). Raphael means ‘God heals’. Raphael is also the patron saint of the blind, travellers, migrants and medical workers. Archangel Michael is known for his battle against the devil and his angels (Revelation 12:7-12) when war broke out in heaven. The devil’s work was to deceive the world and was thus brought down. ‘For the accuser of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before God day and night. They conquered him by the Blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.’ Michael is invoked to escort the dying to heaven at the hour of their death and he is also a champion for all Christians.
In the Gospel Nathanael’s response to Philip’s invitation to come and find Jesus reflects the same invitation that we may have experienced through conversations with friends and family to encounter Jesus maybe even for the first time. On finding Jesus, Nathanael enters into an amazing dialogue which ends in his profession of faith – Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel (John 1:49). This comes straight from his heart. Jesus in turn promises him that he will see great things that were unimaginable – the heavens opening up and angels of God ascending and descending.
This image of angels ascending and descending has been depicted in many art works that have been painted across the centuries. Paintings hang in galleries around the world of angels, cherubs and seraphim surrounding the saints and Jesus. These attract people to ponder and gaze at the beauty of the art before their eyes.
Through the beauty of art God invites us into a dialogue. As I gaze at the images do I just see a picture or am I drawn deeper into it where I can start to see Jesus in a new way, where I can enter into the situation that is before my eyes and where I can start to listen in a new way to what is being quietly said. Today find a painting or image and from it allow the conversation to begin between you and God. You may be surprised by what God has to say.
Victoria Raw is parishioner of Te Whetu O Te Moana, Star of the Sea Marlborough, NZ and is active in lay ministry.