Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Today is the Feast of Archangels Gabriel, Raphael and Michael. They each have special gifts. Gabriel is God’s messenger to Mary revealing that she had been chosen by God to bear the long-awaited Messiah. Raphael brings healing by restoring sight to Tobit and driving out the evil spirit that dwelt in Sarah, his future wife. Raphael is also the patron saint of the blind, travellers, migrants and medical workers. Michael is known for his battle against the devil and his angels. Michael is invoked to escort the dying to heaven at the hour of their death.
There are countless other unnamed angels. They are there to worship God, as described in today’s reading from Daniel. Although there are only occasional descriptions in the Bible of humans coming face to face with angels they reveal God’s will for us as God’s messengers.
In the Gospel Nathanael’s response to Philip’s invitation to come and find Jesus reflects the same invitation that each of us is given. A personal invitation, especially from a family member or friend, can be a truly powerful and life-changing moment to encounter Jesus. It takes courage to invite and it takes courage to accept. Just as the angels announce God’s message to the world so too are we called to do the same.
On finding Jesus, Nathanael enters into an amazing dialogue which ends with his heartfelt profession of faith – Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel. 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, as described in Daniel today.
Paintings hang in galleries around the world of angels and cherubs surrounding the Holy Trinity and the saints. These attract people to ponder and gaze at the beauty of the art before their eyes.
Through this beauty God invites us into a dialogue. As we gaze at these images do we just see pictures of chubby baby angels or are we drawn deeper into it, where we can experience the divine presence in a new way, where we can enter into the realm of the holy set before our eyes and where we can listen to the angelic holy messengers? Today find a painting or image and listen to the conversation that emerges between you and God. What is being said?
Victoria Raw is parishioner of Te Whetu O Te Moana, Star of the Sea Marlborough, NZ and is active in lay ministry.