“You will see heaven opened and the angels…ascending and descending.” Jesus makes this promise to us, his disciples, in today’s Gospel. The disciple Nathanael is amazed that Jesus seems to know him although they have never met. His amazement leads to his confession: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Nathanael seems to view Jesus as a great earthly king like King David. Jesus promises Nathanael something even greater, open and continual access to God: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” Jesus is like the ladder in Jacob’s vision that provides a way into heaven: “Then he [Jacob] had a dream: a stairway rested on the ground, with its top reaching to the heavens; and God’s angels were going up and down on it.” (Genesis 28:12). While Jacob’s vision was only a dream and heaven was opened only temporally, Jesus’ words are a revelation, promising continuous access to God.
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. These angels minister to God as we hear in today’s first reading from Daniel “Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him, and myriads upon myriads attended him.” They also function as mediators and messengers between God and human beings as we hear in the Luke’s Infancy Narrative where the angel Gabriel announces to both Zechariah and Mary the coming birth of a son (Luke 1:11-20, 26-38). While angels have a place in God’s temporary interaction with human beings, we need to keep in mind the revelation in today’s Gospel, Jesus, the Son of Man, provides continuous and assured access to God the Father: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” Let us approach God today with that assurance and faith. God is waiting for us with open arms.
Image: “Archangels Collage” by Art4TheGlryOfGod by Sharon is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.