Stairway to Heaven

– Feast of Sts Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, archangels

Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “… You will see greater things than these.” … “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (John 1:49-51)

There are a few different occasions in the New Testament when the ‘sky is opened’ and we are given a little glimpse beyond our world. At Jesus’ baptism the Father says to him, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11).  At the Transfiguration, Jesus’ face shines “like the sun” (Matthew 17:2). And before the martyrdom of Stephen, the sky opens and he sees “the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56).  These different occasions give us a glimpse into the kingdom that awaits those who have faith, hope and charity.

Today is the feast of the archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. By assigning today’s reading to the feast, there is a particular feature about the world above that the Church is wanting to highlight: angels. Jesus speaks of angels ascending and descending on Him. God reveals a similar image to Jacob, where angels are ascending and descending on a ladder, or stairway, to heaven (see Genesis 28). The point Jesus is making is that he is, in fact, the gateway to heaven; that nobody comes to the Father except through him; and that the angels are there to accompany those who travel along this way.

We are those whom the angels accompany, and it is good for us to know by faith that angels are there to help and protect us on our journey.

We are accompanied by many angels in our life of faith, but the role of the archangels is prominent. Michael protects us. Gabriel speaks to us. Raphael brings and facilitates healing. Together, these angels support us and guide us and bring about tremendous strength in us when we are most in need. With eyes of faith, we can come to see the benefit of asking for and receiving aid from the angels of God.

by David Kruse

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