Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels
“Amen, Amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (Jn 1:21) These mysterious words of Our Lord to Nathanael recall both the glorious vision of the Son of Man being ministered to by myriads of ministers in the prophet Daniel (Dn 7:13), as well as the vision of Jacob at Bethel in the book of Genesis. (Gen 28:10) What do these appearances of the angels tell us? The angels serve as an example for us. Michael battles against Satan who would attempt to set himself up as like God. (Rev 12:7-9) Gabriel bears the message of God, particularly the announcement of the coming of the Savior. (Lk 1:26 ff.) Raphael bears the healing of God to one of God’s blinded servants. (Tob 11:7-17)
This third archangel is particularly good to meditate upon this week. After accompanying the young Tobiah upon his journey, the angel Raphael seeks to help Tobiah heal the blindness of his father, Tobit. (Tob 11:7-8) Once Tobit is healed, his first words are filled with joy because he can see his son, whom he calls, “the light of my eyes!” (Tob 11:14) The sight that God gives is not simply to have insights or to see things. God gives us sight to see the persons who look upon us with love. Let us ask God for this vision which the angels enjoy. Let us ask God to open our eyes to see more and more fully He who is the light of our eyes, He who looks upon us with the highest love.
Grace: An intimate knowledge of the many blessings received, that filled with gratitude for all, I may in all things love and serve the Divine Majesty.
Reflection: In the meditation upon sin, we made reference to Dante’s vision of hell, a cold, desolate place where the fire of love has been extinguished and all lies in a spiritual torpor. This is the perfect image of the heart grown cold to the stirrings of love which God places within it. At the opposite end of Dante’s journey lies a vision that perfectly encapsulates the final meditation of the Spiritual Exercises, the Contemplation to Attain Divine Love. From the lowest reaches of the spiritual universe, Dante ascends to the heights of heaven, where he views “the love that moves the sun and the other stars.” At the heart of the universe lives the Trinitarian God, whose perfect love draws all being into an ordered symphony of praise. Dante feels himself drawn into this harmonic vision through the enflaming of his passions and desires. No one with eyes to see can sit impassively at the vision of God’s love. From the disordered state in which Dante had fallen at the beginning of the poem, he becomes progressively cleansed of his disordered affections through the grace of God and the intercession of Beatrice until finally he is able to pass through the heavens and stand in the presence of God. But notice that Dante only sees God’s depths after he has been interiorly transformed.