Entrance Antiphon: Ps 103(102):20 — “Bless the Lord, all you His angels, mighty in power, fulfilling His Word, and heeding His voice.”
First Reading: Dn 7:9-10, 13-14 — “Thousands upon thousands were ministering to Him.”
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 138:1-2ab, 2cde-3, 4-5 — “In the sight of the angels, I will sing Your praises, Lord.”
Second Reading: Rev 12:7-12ab— “Michael and his angels battled against the dragon.”
Alleluia: 103:21 — Alleluia, alleluia. “Bless the Lord, all you angels, you ministers, who do His will.” Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Jn 1:47-51 — “You will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Communion Antiphon: Ps 138(137):1 — “I will thank You, Lord, with all my heart; in the presence of the Angels I will praise You.”
This weekend, because our Patronal Feast was Thursday, September 29th, the Church allows us to move the celebration to a weekend in Ordinary Time. And so, we are celebrating the Feast of the Archangels ... and as an aside, if October 2nd didn’t fall on a Sunday, we’d be celebrating the Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels. So actually, this weekend, we can celebrate all the angels of the heavenly realm.
The definition of an angel, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, is that an angel is a spiritual, personal, and immortal creature, with intelligence and free will, who glorifies God without ceasing and who serves God as a messenger of His saving plan. Television and movies in modern times have depicted them more like us ... more human than not ... just think of Touched by an Angel, or Highway to Heaven. The relationship of angels to God is in their very names ... the “el” in their name means God. And it’s true ... we are like angels in that we ... angels and humanity ... were both created with free will; however, a major difference is that once angels freely make a choice, they cannot change it. We human beings have the power to change our minds.
Angels serve as intermediaries between God and His people. Rapha-el (“God has healed”) personifies God’s healing power for Tobit. Gabri-el (“God is my strength”) is an evangelist for Daniel (“God is my judge”), for Elizabeth (“God is my oath”) and Zechariah, and for the Blessed Virgin Mary. Micha-el (“Who is like God?”) serves as a protector. In each case, these archangels unite God with His people. The feast acknowledges the role of these messengers and confirms that there is a relationship ... there is an interaction ... between heaven and earth. Yet, even as we celebrate them, we see that theirs was an incidental role in the story of salvation. The ultimate link between earth and heaven is Jesus Christ. He is the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us. His Incarnation is the stairway uniting human beings with the Divine.
I know that in the past I’ve mentioned a book entitled The Shack. Maybe you read it. I read it the first time during my canonical retreat ... the retreat I was required to make by canon law ... just before priesthood. After having a course on the Trinity that totally confused me, it brought a lot of things into their proper perspective. I’ve also seen the movie based upon the book a number of times. However, after the book first came out, some people were critical of William Young’s presentation of the Trinity in this best-seller. In case you haven’t read it, but might someday, I’m sorry to spoil part of it ... but many thought it was blasphemy to portray the persons of the Trinity in the ways they were portrayed. I won’t get into the details. Upon reflection, let me just say that God is exactly what you need God to be. God doesn’t fit the neat little boxes we human beings sometimes try to put Him in ... He doesn’t fit the labels we humans try to ascribe to Him. Young’s critics seemed to think it was necessary to defend God, but when you think about it, describing God in human terms was exactly what the Incarnation was all about. God did not cease to be divine when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. What Jesus did was to demonstrate God’s determination to bring the human and divine together.
God likes human nature. After all, it is a reflection of the divine. We humans have a tendency to put down human nature ... when someone fails or sins, we conclude, “Well that’s human nature.” I think God cringes when we say that. Human nature may be fallen and weak, but it is not evil. Icons and statues and even crucifixes that show Jesus holding up two fingers serve as a reminder that the two natures (human and divine) come together in Him.
The Feast of the Archangels is our way of honoring those creatures who have served as a staircase between heaven and earth. They are part of our religious tradition, signs of God’s love for humanity, and forerunners of God’s great act of love of uniting divine nature with human nature in the person of Jesus Christ. Jacob’s dream of heavenly messengers ascending and descending on a ladder came to fulfillment far beyond his expectations in the Christ! It is the scene described by Jesus as He talked with Nathanael in the Gospel. The archangels testify to God’s awesome creation and can be called on to protect us in times of danger. May God bless you and may His Archangels and Angels protect you always!