When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Today’s feast of the archangels reminds us that we are part of a great spiritual world filled with realities invisible to us and yet still real. We participate in this spiritual realm and are affected by it whether we are aware of it or not. It is very real. The angels (and the demons who are fallen angels) are part of this spiritual world. Their task is to praise God and to carry out his will.
St. Michael is known in the Bible for fighting against Satan and the other rebel angels. He reminds us that there is a great spiritual battle going on around us, the forces of good and evil battling each other for souls, and that the angels are our allies and protection in this struggle. St. Gabriel is God’s messenger, bringing to Mary the news of the Incarnation. He reminds us that God speaks to us through his messengers, communicating his will and his love to us in a spiritual way, which we “hear” with our soul instead of our ears. St. Raphael brings God’s loving care, sent by God to help Tobias and Tobit in answer to their prayers. He reminds us that God listens to our prayers and answers them, helping us in our need through his agents, who are both angels and men.
With so much going on around us in the spiritual world, it is worthwhile trying to stay attuned. Since we are accustomed to seeing and hearing with our senses, this can be difficult. The ability to perceive spiritual realities is, of course, the fruit of prayer and discernment that allows us to recognize and understand the movements and voices that touch our souls. Realizing that the spiritual realm is real and important, and turning to the angels as our allies and friends, is a good place to start.
—Matthew Monnig, S.J.
Lord, it is not easy to listen for your voice. It takes effort and a degree of discipline. Lord, give us the desire to sit in quiet and simply be with you. To fully dedicate ourselves to you for mere minutes each day is an extremely powerful way to discern your will and to recommit to putting you first in our lives. While the fruits of such a commitment may not be apparent immediately, such a practice will bear extraordinary gifts over time. And, Lord, please give our angels a pat on their backs for intervening so many times on our behalf.
—The Jesuit Prayer Team