bible blog 255

This blog follows the daily bible readings of the Catholic Church

FEAST OF MICHAEL AND THE ANGELS

St Michael and the devil -Coventry Cathedral

The Revelation 12: 7-12

War broke out in heaven;

Michael and his angels battled against the dragon.

The dragon and its angels fought back,

but they did not prevail

and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.

The huge dragon, the ancient serpent,

who is called the Devil and Satan,

who deceived the whole world,

was thrown down to earth,

and its angels were thrown down with it.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have salvation and power come,

and the Kingdom of our God

and the authority of his Anointed.

For the accuser of our brothers is cast out,

who accuses them before our God day and night.

They conquered him by the Blood of the Lamb

and by the word of their testimony;

love for life did not deter them from death.

Therefore, rejoice, you heavens,

and you who dwell in them.”

It is an obvious feature of The Revelation, which has escaped many casual interpreters, that forceful victories in heaven are paralleled by martyrdoms on earth. The author is telling us that these are two sides of the one coin. The key to understanding is the cross and exaltation of Jesus. The earthly victory of his cross is paralleled by the heavenly victory of his enthronement. So, in the passage above Satan is thrown down by the angels, while below the saints win the victory by their martyrdom, which shares in the power of Jesus’ cross (blood of the Lamb). One does not exist without the other. The angels are dependent on the suffering courage of men and women, just as the men and women are sustained by the invisible armies of heaven. As our hymn says:

The angels cannot change/ a world of hurt and pain,/ into a world of love/ of justice and of peace/ The task is mine to do/ to set it really free/ Oh help me to obey:/ help me to do your will.

These thoughts may preserve us from the contemporary cult of angels.

The Lamb at the heart of the throne

John 1:47-51

Gospel

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him,

“Here is a true child of Israel.

There is no duplicity in him.”

Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”

Jesus answered and said to him,

“Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”

Nathanael answered him,

“Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

Jesus answered and said to him,

“Do you believe

because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?

You will see greater things than this.”

And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you,

you will see heaven opened

and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

There is a similar profound parallelism in John’s gospel. Nathaniel will see heaven opened (which in Mark’s gospel is said to have happened at Jesus’ baptism). Heaven is opened because the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, is open to God, and in his ministry opens others through his healings and teachings. The angels are allowed to share in the victories of the Son of Man, as they ascend and descend only on Him.

Although there are mysteries in our gospel, there is no hocus-pocus: God’s victory is (fairly!) won on the cross by means of faith and love and suffering, by Jesus, the Son of Man. The resurrection, with its empty tomb and angels, is the demonstration and confirmation of this victory. It’s on the cross that Jesus says, “It is complete.”

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