Sunday Vigil

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Memory of St. Michael the Archangel. The Ethiopian Church, one of the first among the African churches, venerates him as its protector.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

John 1, 47-51

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming he said of him, 'There, truly, is an Israelite in whom there is no deception.'

Nathanael asked, 'How do you know me?' Jesus replied, 'Before Philip came to call you, I saw you under the fig tree.'

Nathanael answered, 'Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the king of Israel.'

Jesus replied, 'You believe that just because I said: I saw you under the fig tree. You are going to see greater things than that.'

And then he added, 'In all truth I tell you, you will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending over the Son of man.'


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Today the liturgy remembers the angels and messengers of the Lord: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. In the biblical tradition the testimonies of these three archangels are many. They mark important moments in the history of salvation even in the Christian centuries. The image of the archangel Michael fighting against evil to save believers crosses centuries and also Christian lands that keep his memory in numerous churches. The angel Gabriel, who is in the presence of God, intervened at the moment of Jesus’ incarnation. And the angel Raphael, who accompanied Tobias on his journey, continues to protect believers. As the Letter to the Hebrews sums up, "Are not all angels' spirits in the divine service, sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?" (1:14). God entrusts them with the task of transmitting his will. It is true that Paul reminds us that there is only "one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus" (1 Tim 2:5); however, the Churches declare the role of these messengers in the history of salvation. Through them we are ensured of God’s constant presence to each of us. Furthermore in their presence, before God’s heavenly throne, they celebrate an uninterrupted celestial liturgy. We join this Divine Liturgy every time we celebrate the Eucharist and proclaim God three times holy. The Gospel passage we heard is one in which the angels, with their "ascending and descending," witness to God’s constant presence in our lives. Thus, believers should not fear chance or the dark forces of nature that invade the world and human hearts. The Lord does not abandon us. The Lord, with his angels, surrounds us so that nothing may remove us from him and that we do not become prey to the forces of the Enemy, the Prince of Evil.