SAINTS MICHAEL, GABRIEL AND RAPHAEL, ARCHANGELS
(A biblical reflection on the THE FEAST OF SAINTS MICHAEL, GABRIEL, AND RAPHAEL, ARCHANGELS, Wednesday, 29 September, 2010)
Second Reading: Rev 12:7-12
First Reading: Dan 7:9-10; Psalms: Ps 138:1-5; Gospel: Jn 1:47-51
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, who fought back with his angels; but the dragon was defeated, and he and his angels were not allowed to stay in heaven any longer. The huge dragon was thrown out – the ancient serpent, called the Devil, or Satan, that deceived the whole world. He was thrown down to earth, and all his angels with him.
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, “Now God’s salvation has come! Now God has shown His power as King! Now His Messiah has shown His authority! For the one who stood before our God and accused our brothers day and night has been thrown out of heaven. Our brothers won the victory over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the truth which they proclaimed; and they were willing to give up their lives and die. And so be glad, you heavens, and all you that live there! But how terrible for the earth and the sea! For the Devil has come down to you, and he is filled with rage, because he knows that he has only a little time left” (Rev 12:7-12 TEV).
In the presence of the angels, come let us adore the Lord (Invitatory antiphon in the ‘Liturgy of the Hour’ for today).
Today, we commemorate the archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. According to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church” (CCC), the angels are created spiritual beings with intellects and wills and that each angel is a unique and immortal heavenly being (CCC, 327-336). “They are spirits who serve God and are sent by Him to help those who are to receive salvation” (Heb 1:14).
The functions of the three archangels correspond to three major thrusts of Jesus’ ministry: (1) announcing good news, (2) healing the sick, and (3) delivering the oppressed. Gabriel, whose name means “God is mighty,” is God’s messenger. He announced to Mary that she would give birth to the Savior. Raphael – whose name means “God heals” (The medicine of God) – is associated with God’s healing power in the Book of Tobit. Michael, whose name means “Who is like God?” delivers God’s people from oppression by doing battle with Satan (Rev 12:7).
Humans are “a little lower than angels”, but our destiny is to be divinized in Christ and raised above even the angels. Let us listen to the Psalmist: “When I look at the sky, which You have made, at the moon and the stars, which You set in their places – what is man, that You think of him; mere man, that You care for him? Yet You made him inferior only to Yourself; You crowned him with glory and honor. You appointed him ruler over everything You made; You placed him over all creation” (Ps 8:3-6). The Bible tells us that the devil – who himself was once a mighty angel – rebelled against God out of envy because “we [humans] should have first place among all His creatures” (Jas 1:18 TEV; “a kind of first fruits of His creatures” [RSV]; see also Rev 12:3-9). The Wisdom of Solomon says, “When God created us, He did not intend that we should die; He made us like Himself. It was the Devil’s jealousy that brought death into the world, and those who belong to the Devil are the ones who will die” (Wis 2:23-24). So, if we want to protect ourselves, we need to be alert to the spiritual battle.
Of course, Jesus already defeated Satan and his fallen angels, but they are still free to tempt and test us until Jesus comes again in glory. By understanding the seriousness of this battle, we can arm ourselves with the assurance that, through Jesus, we are incorporated into the Trinity. In Christ, nothing can overcome us. God’s angels are here to minister to our needs (Heb 1:14). As we celebrate the feast of the archangels today, let us wrap ourselves in Jesus’ love, ask His angels to help us, and thank God for His provision for us.
Short prayer: Lord God of hosts, in Your all-wise plan You assign to angels and to men the services they have to render You. Grant that the angels who adore You in heaven, may protect us here on earth. We pray this, together with Mary, in the precious name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Jakarta, 27 September 2010
A Christian Pilgrim