- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

Homily for September 29, 2020

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14, John 1:47-51

The existence of angels is attested as a truth of the faith. They were created by God at the dawn of time to be his servants and messengers. They have always and will forever contemplate the face of God. They are ready to carry out his every command. They are attentive listeners and executors of His Word. When God created human beings in His image and likeness, the angels filled the space between God and man, communicating His message, protecting man from harm, and battling against the armies of Satan. The existence of angels reminds us of God’s provident care for us. Utilizing the angels God provides us with helpers to light and guide us as we journey towards our heavenly homeland.

Through the Incarnation, God became man so that man might become god. The individual does not go to God alone, or by his own efforts. From all eternity God dwells in unapproachable light, ever communicating Truth and radiating Life. The glory of the Father shines on the face of the Son and is reflected by the members of his body, the church. This means that there are layers of words and actions that channel God’s grace to the world. When you think about it, the use of names, such as, “Almighty God” or “Loving Father” or “My Lord and My God” places us in a relationship of love and adoration of God.

The task of the three Archangels, in addition to contemplating God, is to communicate His Word to human beings in various ways, to be an inspiration for them, and to be the catalysts of divine grace for them. He who made all things rules all that he created by a word of power. He disposes of all things according to his will. Having gazed upon his infinite glory, the angels stand in awe of his majesty and worship him ceaselessly. Let all his works praise him.

The names of each of these archangels tell us about the work God gave them to do. Michael means “who is like God.” God gave Michael the responsibility of protecting us as God protects us. In the Book of Daniel, he is presented as the great prince who defends Israel against its enemies. In the Book of Revelations, he leads God’s armies to victory over the forces of evil. Because St. Michael is God’s gift to us, we can pray to him when we face temptation.

Gabriel means “hero of God.” Gabriel is God’s hero because he communicates God’s message to people. Gabriel is the angel who revealed the secrets of God’s plan to Daniel (Dn 8, 16; 9, 21-22). He announced the birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah (Lk 1, 11-20); and he announced the conception of Jesus to Mary (Lk 1, 26-38). He also appeared in a dream to Joseph to make him desist from repudiating Mary because her pregnancy was the work of the Holy Spirit. The role of Gabriel was therefore pivotal. He brings God’s message to us, helping us to ponder it with a pure a heart and to surrender to it with a docile spirit.

Raphael means “God has healed.” Raphael’s activity is only found in the Book of Tobit. There he appears to guide Tobit’s son Tobiah through a series of fantastic adventures which lead to a threefold happy ending: Tobiah’s marriage to Sarah, the healing of Tobit’s blindness, and the restoration of the family fortune. Pious tradition suggests Raphael was the angel that stirred the water in a pool where Jesus healed a paralyzed man. We can pray to Raphael when we are sick or in need of a companion and guide for life’s journey. Through St. Raphael, the healing and purifying power of God’s love descends on us, opening our eyes to the Truth and our hearts to love.

Today’s feast reminds us of God’s care for us. It is consoling to know that we are not alone as we journey through life. Such consolation is especially needed during these days of the pandemic and racial unrest. The mission of the three archangels addresses three basic human needs. First, the need to be protected from the snares of the evil one who would cause us to stray down the wrong path. Second, the need to have hope, to be reminded of the good news so as not to be depressed with the bad news that we constantly hear. And third, the need for guidance, to make the right choices along life’s path, and to have the strength to carry them out.