And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (Jn 1:51).
Jesus, in making this comment to Nathaniel, was referring to the incident where the patriarch Jacob had a dream in which he saw angels ascending and descending on a ladder from heaven to earth. Jacob was in awe from the experience and believed that he was at “the gate of heaven” (cf. Genesis 28:12-17). Looking carefully at Jesus’ comment, we see again the image of the angels ascending and descending, as with Jacob, but the difference here is that that ladder coming down from heaven is not seated upon the earth, but “on the Son of Man”. This is a title Jesus used for himself often.
Jesus is the gate between heaven and earth. Jesus will state later in John 14:6 that he is “the way and the truth and the life” and that no one comes to the Father except through him. The glorious moment when the Son of God took on flesh and became a man, the Son of God became one with us. This was not just so that thirty years later he could lead, model, teach, and perform exorcisms and miracles for their own sake. It was as St Irenaeus taught, that Jesus became one with us so that we could become one with him and in so doing opened up heaven for us in the humanity he assumed.
Heaven and earth are joined in the presence of Jesus. This is a mystery of the glory and wonder that we can partake in at each celebration of the Mass. We do not attend just to take up space and fulfill an obligation but to experience again in the sacrificial offering of Jesus “on earth as it is in heaven.” We share in the heavenly banquet. We participate in the divine communal dance of Love between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. We pray for our needs and for others, we intercede for the salvation of the whole world. We are empowered by his own Body and Blood in the Eucharist to minister to his broken and wounded Body in the midst of a fallen world. Filled from this glorious feast we are then sent forth to be Jesus’ hands and feet to the world.
I invite you to attend Mass this weekend or daily at 8:00 am or 5:30 pm. If you don’t have a parish home or have been away for a while there’s no time like the present to begin again. If you are not Catholic, are curious, and seeking a place to worship, join us as well. Just introduce yourself when you come into the sanctuary at the front entrance and seek out our welcoming kiosk and our greeters will help to get someone to sit with you to accompany and guide you. For times, directions, and if you are unable to attend in person you may click on the picture link that says Livestream for our live online streaming of the Mass. Here is the address to our homepage: https://www.stpeterjupiter.com .
Come and experience angels ascending and descending on the Son of God!
Photo: My first Mass about seven years ago with Fr. Jean and Deacon Stephen