To read the texts click on the texts: Dn 7:9-10,13-14; Jn 1:47-51
The English word Angel comes from the Hebrew ‘malakh’ or the Greek ‘ángelos’ which means messenger or envoy. The Angel is regarded as a being which bears messages from God and communicates what God wants to communicate. The Feast of the Guardian Angels is a reminder that our God is not a God who created the world and left it to its own designs, but a God who is constantly involved with and in the world. It is a reminder that when we need succour or help, we can always call on God’s angels.
The Gospel of Luke narrates how Angel Gabriel carries God’s message of birth to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist and Mary, the mother of Jesus. In the Gospel of Matthew, when speaking of the ‘little ones’ in Community, Jesus says, “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven” (Mt 10:18).
The Feast was placed in the General Roman Calendar in 1607 by Pope Paul V. The papal decree establishing the feast was co-signed by Robert Bellarmine, which has led some scholars to speculate that the feast was created under the influence of the Society of Jesus.
The Gospel text for the feast is Nathanael’s encounter with Jesus as narrated by John. Nathanael does have an opinion about where the Messiah must come from, yet remains open to another revelation. Though sceptical, he is willing to be convinced. Jesus addresses Nathanael as an “Israelite” which signifies his faithfulness to the law and is used here in a positive sense. He is without guile because though he has questions and even doubts, he is open and receptive and willing to learn. Jesus’ intimate knowledge of Nathanael and the revelation that he makes to him leads to a transformation in Nathanael and he comes to faith. He responds to Jesus with a confession and though he begins with Rabbi, he moves on to recognizing Jesus as Son of God and King of Israel.
However, Jesus responds by pointing out to Nathanael that this is only the beginning of the revelation that Jesus makes. If he continues to remain open he will experience even greater things. By means of a double “Amen”, Jesus points out to Nathanael and to others there that he will be the bridge between heaven and earth. He will be that place and person in whom the earthly and divine encounter each other. He as Son of man will make God known.
Scepticism and cynicism are common among many people. While this is not a problem in itself, what causes the problem is when these lead to a closed attitude. In a world in which we refuse to believe unless we first see, Jesus seems to be saying to us like he said to Nathanael “First believe than you will see”.
The Feast of the Guardian Angels is a reminder that God (through the Angels) is willing to be constantly available, whenever we make a decision to turn to God.