Monday, September 29, 2008

The Angelic Three!

When I was growing up my younger brother was no angel! My mother had several peony bushes in our small yard and she waited patiently for them to bloom at the end of each May. She loved those peony bushes! One day my brother, Michael, and his friend Herbie (they were about 4 years old) decided to have a pretend fight. One by one they pulled off all the peony buds and pelted each other with them. By the time my mother discovered what they had done the buds were all gone. She was devastated – and my brother was punished!

I thought of this story today as we celebrate the feast of the Archangels – Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. The Lord took my brother home several years ago so I have great hope that he has already met his namesake!

Today I would like to introduce you to these three messengers of God through the words of St. Gregory the Great:

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.

“…personal names are assigned to some, not because they could not be known without them, but rather to denote their ministry when they come among us. Thus Michael means ‘Who is like God?’; Gabriel is ‘The Strength of God’, and Raphael is ‘God’s Remedy.’

“Whenever some act of wondrous power must be performed, Michael is sent, so that his action and his name may make it clear that no one can do what God does by his superior power.”
(St. Michael is the archangel who cast Satan from Heaven when he rebelled and will defeat him at the end of the world. See the Book of Revelation 12:7.)

“Raphael mean God’s remedy for when he touched Tobit’s eyes in order to cure him, he banished the darkness of his blindness.”

I find myself thanking God today for the angels – for the archangels – for their part in God’s plan of salvation. Later this week we celebrate the Feast of the Guardian Angels. More later!

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