The Feast of Saint Michael, Gabriel and Raphael The Archangels. HOMILY BY THE CONGREGATIO PRO CLERICIS
The Feast of Saint Michael, Gabriel and Raphael The Archangels.
Da 7,9-10.13-14: www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9an35hg.htm
Rev 12,7-12a: www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9ak1eel.htm
Jn 1,47-51: www.clerus.org/bibliaclerusonline/en/9ciutqa.htm
The Sacred Scriptures and the uninterrupted Tradition of the Church allows us to identify two significant aspects of an Angel’s identity. Primarily, the angels are creatures that ‘stand before God’ (Rev 8:2) and their total being is oriented towards Him. Symptomatically, the name of the three Archangels finishes with the word ‘El’ and so God has written their proper identity in their very names: the angels exist to be in Him and for Him.
Another aspect of the angels identity is that they are God’s messengers who bring God to men, and so bring the Truth to the world as witnesses of the Gospel today. As the Angels are close to God they can also be close to men. The Angels invite us to rediscover that we, like them, continually receive our existence from God and that we are also called to stand before God. This is our communal identity and truth. Looking closer at the three Archangels, their precious mission and physiognomy becomes clearer.
The Sacred Scriptures presents two mandates to St Michael the Archangel:. He defends the cause of the only God against the presumption of the dragon. In every epoch the devil’s great temptation is to make man believe that God ought to disappear so that man can become great. The dragon not only accuses God, but also man as Satan is the one who ‘accuses them [our brothers] night and day before our God’ (Ap 12:10) The man who goes away from God does not become great but, on the contrary, he is deprived of his dignity and becomes insignificant. On the other hand, faith in God defends man, making him free, thus revealing his true greatness.
St Michael’s other great assignment is to be the protector of God’s people (cfr. Dn 10, 13:21; 12:1) as where the glory God shines in His Church the envy of the Devil brakes out against it. Medieval Christians were very well aware of St Michael’s protective role and constructed beautiful Churches in his name. For example, the three Abbeys dedicated to St Michael: San Michele in Monte Sant’ Angelo Gargano, Sacra di San Michele in Torino (both in Italy) and Mont Saint Michael in France, which span Europe and are on a unique geographical axis that is 1000 M equidistant and orientated towards Jerusalem, testify to the ecclesial confidence in Michael’s protection for the whole of Europe. Today, more than ever, his powerful defence is necessary for us!
St Gabriel is the messenger of God’s incarnation (Lk 1:26-38). He knocks on Mary’s door and through him, God Himself asks the Virgin for her ‘Yes’ to become the Mother of the Redeemer. The Lord stays tirelessly at the door of the world and of every heart continuing to knock: ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.’ (Rev 3:20) He knocks at the door, in order to ask for the liberty to open it. He, entering in us and living amongst us, desires that our lives have the breath of God and the amplitude of Heaven. In communion with Christ, we are also associated with Gabriel’s mission to bring Christ’s call to men and to give them the joyful annunciation of His presence.
Finally, Saint Raphael is presented in the Book of Tobias as the Angel who is entrusted with the mission to heal. When Jesus sends His disciples on their mission to announce the Gospel he also associates this mission with healing. Announcing the Gospel, by its very nature, means to heal because above all else man needs God’s love and truth. The Archangel Raphael heals the communion between a man and a woman. He heals their love and gives to them the ability to accept each other for ever. In second place, the Book of Tobias speaks of the healing of the blind. We touch upon how we are threatened by blindness to God today. There is the great danger that, when faced with all the material things we have and all that we are able to do, we become blind to God’s light. Healing the heart’s blindness, by announcing Christ, is the sublime work that we, together with St Raphael, have been entrusted. Only the experience of the regenerating presence of Christ, can make the new light shine in our sight and open up Heaven where the angels are ‘ascending and descending’ to serve and to praise God in communion between heaven and earth.
Today, in the Holy Archangels, heaven luminously shines forth and is opened once more for us as defence, protection and as the happy announcement of God’s presence like the healing light for our eyes. Let’s thank the Lord for the gift of these powerful friends and, together with Her who is the Queen of the Angels, invoke their celestial protection for our good and the good of the Church!