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THE ONE AND ONLY MEDIATOR Homily for Wednesday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time, Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, 29 September 2021, John 1:47-51

SHARE THE TRUTH

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In Jewish tradition, a priest’s role os to mediate between God and people. Before God, he represents human beings. Before human beings, he represents God. I can understand a priest representing humans before God, but how can he represent God before humankind?

Today’s Gospel uses the image of the “ladder between heaven and earth” to describe the true role of the Messiah as a priestly mediator. After Nathanael proclaims Jesus as the Son of God and King of Israel, Jesus says, “You will see greater things. You will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

He is actually borrowing that from Genesis chapter 28, the story about the dream of Jacob. There, the ladder represents the vocation and mission which Jacob is being called to do when he becomes “Israel,” the covenant people. They are supposed to make possible the constant “traffic of angels” between heaven and earth, between God and humankind. The ascending angels carrying our human concerns to God and the descending angels bringing God’s gifts and blessings to humankind. But it is the ladder makes this traffic possible. It enables us to experience GOD’s PRESENCE AMONG US.

That is why Israel is called a PRIESTLY PEOPLE, or a COVENANT PEOPLE. For this mission to be realized, they had to be faithful to the words of the covenant that were engraved on two stone tablets and safeguarded in the Ark. Unfortunately, as the prophets would later lament, the covenant was engraved only on stone and not in the hearts of the people, and so Israel failed to fulfill its mission.

In today’s Gospel, John is suggesting to us the only one who would fulfill the covenant mission of Jacob is Jesus. Nathanael proclaims Jesus as the SON OF GOD, but Jesus tells him he will see greater things, namely, the heavens being opened and the angels of God ascending and descending. But this time, the ladder is no longer Israel but the SON OF MAN!

The mission of the Messiah as the Son of God who becomes an incarnate Son of Man is to be our connection to God and God’s connection to is. Before humankind he can represent God because he is truly God. Before God, he can represent us, because he is truly human. Truly human and truly divine in one person. That is why he himself becomes our new covenant, according to St. Paul. In Colossians 1:17, he says, “In him (in Christ), all things hold together… All things are reconciled through him…whether those on earth or those in heaven.”

Meaning, He is our only bridge, our only intercessor. That is why we course all the prayers which we address to the Father THROUGH JESUS CHRIST, the only begotten Son! He is our only bridge, our permanent connection. That is why we do not say “we ask this through Mama Mary or through the saints.” Even they have to course their intercession through the one and only Mediator—the Son of God.

The dream of Jacob is fulfilled only in the Messiah, the SON OF GOD who became a SON OF MAN so that human beings can become sons and daughters of God. Wala tayong ibang hagdan sa pagitan ng langit at lupa kundi si Kristo. Pero kung ang mabuhay bilang Kristiyano ay maging bahagi ni Kristo, ibig sabihin, bahagi tayo ng hagdan! We share in the mission of Christ. Our mission is to allow the upward and downward movement of God’s angels to continue to take place.

Today we also celebrate the feast of the Holy Archangels. Many Christians do not know these angelic figures are not original to Christianity. We inherited them from Judaism. If the generic angels facilitate some minor functions of serving as God’s messengers, the archangels says Pope Gregory in his reflection in today’s office of the readings are facilitators of major functions!

What are these these major functions which they facilitate? Three things: the functions of being agents facilitating understanding, healing and self-emptying.

First, facilitator of MEANING AND UNDERSTANDING, That’s the role of Gabriel. Remember how he made Daniel understand the Scriptures in Daniel 9? Remember how he made Zechariah and Mary understand God’s will for them in Luke’s infancy narrative?

Second, the facilitator of REMEDY AND HEALING. That’s the role of Raphael. Remember the book of Tobit, and how Raphael facilitated the restoration of the sight of Tobit and the removal of the devil’s curse on Sarah, the wife of Tobias?

Thirdly, the one who facilitates HUMBLING or SELF-EMPTYING: That’s the role of Michael, whose name is a question or a challenge: WHO IS LIKE GOD? Only Michael challenged Satan, who had fallen because he had become arrogant and had begun to think he was God? The answer to Michael’s challenge is the KENOSIS, the self-emptying of the son of God who did not aspire to be godlike but allowed himself to be born in human likeness. See Philippians 2:1-11.

We get all three graces from the archangels only through the one bridge or stairway between heaven and earth: JESUS CHRIST, the SON OF GOD AND SON OF MAN, the One priest and mediator between heaven and earth, God and humankind. When we celebrate the Eucharist, we who minister are facilitating that connection because we act in the person of the One Mediator.

In the Name of Christ, we must continue to do the roles of the archangels: being facilitators of meaning and understanding, remedy and healing and humbling and self-emptying.

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