St. Michael & All Angels
Today we remember angels, mysteriously other. These outside, beyond, heavenly beings worship before God’s throne, fight evil, and come bearing messages.
When he was afraid, Jacob received a dream. Jacob saw angels ascending and descending on a ladder connecting heaven and earth and heard God speaking to him. God who had seemed beyond and absent broke through to be present in voice and with the sight of angels.
Jacob woke from his dream and said: “Surely the Lord is in this place. … How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is gate of heaven.” So Jacob made a pillar, poured oil on it and called the place Bethel, the house of God.
In our gospel text we hear Jesus referencing this story. Jesus said to Nathanial: “Very truly, I tell you, all of you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
“You will see heaven opened.” This is in the perfect tense. Not that they will see heaven opened in the future. Rather, Jesus is saying: You will see me. I am heaven opened. I connect you with God and the heavenly realms.[i] Jesus connects with intimacy to God and to us. Through John we see Jesus intimately close with One whom he calls Father. “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”[ii]Jesus is also intimately close with us. “I have called you friends.”[iii]
Scholar Dale Bruner writes Jesus identifies himself by referencing Jacob’s story. Jesus connects heaven and earth. “Surely the Lord is in This Place: Jesus. How awesome is This Place: Jesus. This Jesus is none other than the house of God. This Jesus is the gate of heaven.[iv]
Angels worship, speak, and visit pointing to Jesus. Pointing beyond to One both other and intimate, mysterious and made flesh. Together with the angels, let us worship the One who is heaven opened, here among us.
[i]Frederick Dale Bruner (2012) The Gospel of John: A Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, p115.
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