Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael
We celebrate today the Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels. The Greek word angeloi literally means “messengers.” This is also the meaning of the Hebrew melakim, translated as ‘angels’ or ‘messengers.’ As messengers, angels minister and guide believers. (Genesis 24:7-40) They provide for their needs. (1 Kings 19:5-8) They protect and deliver them from danger. (Psalms 34:7) And they gather and comfort them. (Matthew 24:31)
Archangels are chief angels or those in high position. Some angels are given this title in the liturgy or popular belief because of the prominent roles they play, as noted in the Scriptures.
Three Archangels are especially mentioned: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. 1. Michael, meaning “Who is like God?” is the heavenly spirit who watches over God’s people. He is the leader of the angelic hosts in the battle between the dragon (Satan) and his angels. (Revelations 12:7) In the Christian liturgy, he is the protector of the Church and the angel who escorts the souls of the departed into heaven. 2. Gabriel, meaning “God is strong,” is one of the seven who stands before God (Tobit 12:15) the interpreter of the visions to Daniel (Daniel 9:21-27). In the Lucan infancy narratives, he is the angel of the annunciation to Zechariah and to Mary. (Luke 1:11-20 and Luke 1:26-38) 3. Raphael, meaning “God heals,” plays a principal role in the Book of Tobit: a guardian in the journey, healer, and expeller of demons. He is one of the seven angels who offer the prayers of God’s people and enter the presence of the Holy One. (Daniel 12:15)
What does our faith in angels mean for us? Very simply it means: The love of God for us is expressed not only in what our eyes can see. The love of God for us and the power of God, is also expressed to us in invisible realities. For us to be able to understand the mystery of God’s love, it is also important that we have faith and believe that there are invisible realities which are expressions of God’s love for us.
Archangels show us in a special way God’s love for us. They manifest God’s protective love (keeping us from harm), God’s powerful love (doing great things for us), God’s healing love (healing us from our woundedness). Angels, indeed, are the sign of God’s personal love and concern for us.