29 Sep – Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, & Raphael, archangels
St. Michael the Archangel is the leader of the army of God during the Lucifer uprising. Devotion is common to Muslims, Christians, and Jews with writings about him in all three cultures. He is considered the guardian angel of Israel.
The feast of the Apparition of St. Michael (May 8) commemorates the sixth century appearance of the archangel on Mt. Gargano near Manfredonia in southern Italy. Michael requested a church built in his honour at the site. If you find medals or holy cars with “relics” of Michael, they are probably rock chips from the cave, or pieces of cloth that have touched it.
St. Raphael, also known as Azariah, is one of the three angels mentioned by name in Scripture, and one of the seven that stand before God’s throne. He is the lead character in the deuterocanonical book of Tobit in which he travelled with (and guarded) Tobias, and cured a man’s blindness; hence his connection with travellers, young people, blindness, healing and healers. He is traditionally considered the force behind the healing power of the sheep pool mentioned in John 5:1-4.
St. Gabriel is a messenger of God who appeared to the prophet Daniel to explain the prophet’s visions relating to the Messiah (Daniel 8:16-26, 9:21). He also appeared to Zecharias in the temple to announce the coming of Zecharias’ son, John the Baptist, and to strike him mute for his disbelief (Luke 1:11-20). The angel also appeared to Mary to let her know she’d been selected to bear the Saviour (Luke 1:25-38).
“You should be aware that the word “angel” denotes a function rather than a nature. Those holy spirits of heaven have indeed always been spirits. They can only be called angels when they deliver some message. Moreover, those who deliver messages of lesser importance are called angels, and those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels.
And so it was not merely an angel but the archangel Gabriel was sent to the Virgin Mary. It was only fitting that the highest angel should come to announce the greatest of all messages… So too Gabriel, who is called God’s strength, was sent to Mary. He came to announce the One who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers. Thus God’s strength announced the coming of the Lord of the heavenly powers, mighty in battle.
– from a homily by Pope St. Gregory the Great
– Source: Patron Saint Index
And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming,
‘Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Messiah,
for the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down,
who accuses them day and night before our God.
But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb
And by the word if their testimony,
For they did not cling to life even in the face of death.
Rejoice then, you heavens
And those who dwell in them!’
When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
There are many stories, songs, movies, comics about angels. There are many representations of angels too, some that are supposed to be authentic, others that have been born out of philosophy, folklore or imagination. Angels are generally thought of as white-winged spiritual beings that physically look similar to humans. If we take the literal meaning of humans being made “in the image of God”, then angels could perhaps too have been made in the image of God. But that’s just my own pure supposition. In recent times, mostly in comics and anime, black-winged angels have also appeared to symbolize what would be called ‘dark angels’. The following is what I have heard about angels. I do not know whether these are accurate or whether there is actual evidence about what I will say.
Angels are – should be – very powerful beings. However, it is said that they have one less things compared to us humans – free will. They were created with the sole purpose to serve God. They are also supposed to be less important than humans, or have a lower rank compared to humans. Whether there is a hierarchy between angels and humans in heaven, I do not know. That is supposed to be one of the reasons why Lucifer rebelled against God.
Now, angels were created only to serve God. They never question his intentions, they faithfully follow all his commands. Unlike us humans who doubt him, who disobey his commands, who sin against him, who do as we please. But in heaven, we are still greater than angels who have never done any wrong. Doesn’t that speak volumes about how much God values us, how much he loves us? We even have guardian angels to look over us.
Which father would favour a son who never followed his commands or turned against him over another who always did what he asked? But that’s the kind of Father God is. And even then, it is said that angels will never be called sons of God, but always be known as servants. But that’s how God planned it all. Even though he knew we would turn against him and disobey him, he still created us as his sons and daughters. That in itself shows how much he loves us. To disregard whether we will hurt him or praise him, turn against him or love him, he still created us. Similarly, a married couple who, in true love, decide to have a child does not think about whether the child will be born with physical or mental disabilities, or whether that child will love them or turn against them in the future. The decision to have a child and to love that child is the main reason. However we turned out to be, doesn’t the fact that we are here on earth prove that God loves us?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Lyndley Ah Qune)
We pray for those who feel insecure, abandoned, unloved. That they may find hope and comfort and discover God’s love.
Thanks be to God for all of us, born out of love.
Sat, 30 Sep – Ecclesiastes 11:9 – 12:8; Luke 9:43b-45; Memorial for St. Jerome, priest and doctor
Sun, 1 Oct – Numbers 11:25-29; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48; Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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Disclaimer: The reflections expressed in this e-mail are the writer’s own. They may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Catholic Church. Nonetheless we should all be able to learn something from it.