Friday, September 29, 2006

Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels
Angelic Consolation

Readings: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14 or Rev 12:7-12ab; Psalm 138:1-2ab, 2cde-3, 4-5; John 1:47-51

There's much consolation in the gospel today, especially when one considers the extraordinary way in which Jesus seems to know Nathanael. Before Philip came to call you I saw you under the fig tree. Jesus knows just the words to use to enable Nathanael to profess faith in Him. Not just faith in someone’s apparent ability at fortune-telling, but faith in the Son of Man, the living embodiment of God’s love, upon whom angels ascend and descend.

At some level, don’t we all desire to know and to be known in this way? Even though we may sometimes seem to be well-practiced at hiding our real thoughts and feelings behind different kinds of masks – all in the name of diplomacy and tact, of course – even though we sometimes seem to be masters and mistresses of deceit, don’t we all yearn for the consolation of having someone understand us the way Jesus seems to understand Nathanael? And yet, for some if not all of us, isn’t there also a part of us that somehow resists stepping out from behind our masks, a part of us that shies away from this kind of intimacy? And even when we do step out, how often do we find a true meeting of minds and hearts?

Isn’t this why today’s feast of the archangels is so consoling? What do the angels represent if not the deep desire of our God – the same God that is described in such an awe-inspiring and even terrifying way in the book of Daniel – to communicate with us ever more intimately, to let us know Him even as He knows us through and through? And is this divine desire to communicate not just what we need to experience when we find ourselves trapped in that twilight place between intimacy and deceit? Indeed, isn’t this what Nathanael experiences in the first reading? Doubtful or suspicious though he may be at first, in Jesus, Nathanael has a vision of angels.

Where and who are our angels today?

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