Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14; John 1:47-51
Today’s Gospel refers us to Jacob’s encounter with God in his dream at Bethel–a place-name meaning House of God. It’s a worthy reference for the ministry of angels.
In our liturgical tradition, we have blessings for persons, objects and places–which is logical enough. But in this tradition, the altar or the Cross of Christ, for example, are not objects but “places, ” locations where salvific events take place, be it the celebration of the Eucharist or Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary.
The First Eucharistic Prayer–the Roman Canon–and the various Divine Liturgies of the Eastern Orthodox Churches commemorate the ministry of angels, even in sacramental acts.
The Acts of the Apostles, drawing upon the Jewish Scriptures, remind us that each nation, each ethnic group, has its guiding angel. Every nation, in the sense of country or a people, is also a “place” a locus, inviting God’s work through the angels. Herein is the underlying unity–rather than the lie of self-seeking superiority of one over the other–of the human race.
Traditionally, angels are understood to guide the components of the cosmos, of all creation, whether of our tiny earth on the fringes of our galaxy, or the entire universe. Angels are the link between “place” and “person” in the cosmic liturgy.
If this seems a contrast to the chaos we often experience in history, in daily life, recall that liturgy is an unfolding work-in-progress. As a truly creative act, it confronts chaos, constructing its ferocious energies into an ordered articulation reflecting Divinity, generating a life-giving organism.
The celebration is not yet complete; the ministry of angels continues. May their work grant us hope, trust and perseverance.