29 September – Feast of the Holy Archangels, Michael, Gabriel, Raphael
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 that 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
Michael was the leader of the army of God during the Lucifer uprising. Devotion to him is common to Muslims, Christians and Jews with writings about him in all three cultures. He is considered as the guardian angel of Israel, and the guardian and protector of the Church.
Raphael is one of the seven angels that stand before God’s throne. He is the lead character in the book of Tobit in which he travelled with (and guarded) Tobiah, and cured a man’s blindness; hence his connection with travellers, young people, blindness, healing and healers.
– Patron Saints Index
As I watched:
Thrones were set in place
and one of great age took his seat.
His robe was white as snow,
the hair of his head as pure as wool.
His throne was a blaze of flames,
its wheels were a burning fire.
A stream of fire poured out,
issuing from his presence.
A thousand thousand waited on him,
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
A court was held
and the books were opened.
And I saw, coming on the clouds of heaven,
one like a son of man.
He came to the one of great age
and was led into his presence.
On him was conferred sovereignty,
glory and kingship,
and men of all peoples, nations and languages became his servants.
His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty
which shall never pass away,
nor will his empire ever be destroyed.
When Jesus saw Nathanael coming he said of him, ‘There is an Israelite who deserves the name, incapable of deceit.’ ‘How do you know me?’ said Nathanael ‘Before Philip came to call you,’ said Jesus ‘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 will see greater things than that.’ And then he added ‘I tell you most solemnly, you will see heaven laid open and, above the Son of Man, the angels of God ascending and descending.’
“In all truth I tell you, you will see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending over the Son of man.”
Do we all have guardian angels?
As we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Archangels (Michael, Gabriel and Raphael), I’ve always desired and believed for St Michael to be my guardian angel.
We read in the Gospel that Jesus knew Nathanael was under the fig tree, but more than that, Nathanael knew that Jesus knew so much more. There was this connection and relationship, of understanding, of love. Between creator and created, between God and Man. Nathanael acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God.
In our lives, I can personally say that God has been ever present and sometimes sending His angels to watch over me, to protect me, to guide me, in the form of my parents, teachers, friends and the many people I meet every day. Those brief moments where there is a connection that seems beyond our understanding, where we enjoy a moment of embrace or a witness of love, not just the love of man but the love from God from a stranger that we meet.
The readings call us to recognise the angels in our lives, who live for love, for life and for God. For the good of the world, to be the light in our darkness today. Let us also embody this desire to be saints and angels, in order that we may ascend and descend over the Son of man, to protect, guide and love the people He has sent us to. May we be guardian angels too.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Let us pray the prayer to St Michael. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defence against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord for always watching over us. Thank you for your protection. Thank you for your love. Amen.