29Sep 29 September. Archangels Michael, Gabriel & Raphael

Some of the angels have distinctive names to denote their special service to mankind.. Michael means “Who is like God?” Gabriel is “The Strength of God;” and Raphael is “God’s Remedy. Perhaps today we might each honour our Guardian Angel.

1st Reading: Daniel (7:9-10, 13-14)

The splendour of the Ancient One.. and the glorious Son of Man

As I watched, thrones were set in place, and an Ancient One took his throne, his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames, and its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and flowed out from his presence. A thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood attending him. The court sat in judgment, and the books were opened.

As I watched in the night visions, I saw one like a human being coming with the clouds of heaven. And he came to the Ancient One and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingship, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 138)

R.: In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord

I thank you, Lord, with all my heart,
you have heard the words of my mouth.
Before the angels I will bless you.
I will adore before your holy temple. (R./)

I thank you for your faithfulness and love
which excel all we ever knew of you.
On the day I called, you answered;
you increased the strength of my soul. (R./)

All the earth’s kings shall thank you
when they hear the words of your mouth.
They shall sing of the Lord’s ways:
‘How great is the glory of the Lord!’ (R./)

Gospel: John (1:47-51)

You will see angels ascending and descending upon the Son of Man

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”


God’s special envoys

Excerpt from a homily (PL 76, 1250-1251) of St Gregory the Great (Office of Readings for today’s Feast.)

The word “angel” denotes a function rather than a nature. Those spirits of heaven have indeed always been spirits . They can only be called angels when they deliver some message. Those who deliver messages of lesser importance are called angels; and those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels. Hence the one who was sent to the Virgin Mary was not merely an angel but the archangel Gabriel. It was fitting that the highest angel should announce the greatest of all messages.

Some angels are given proper names to denote the service they are sent to perform. Personal names are assigned, not because they could not be known without them, but to denote their ministry when they came 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, to make it clear that no one can do what God does by his superior power. Our ancient foe desired in his pride to be like God, saying: ‘I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven; I will be like the Most High.’ He will remain in power until the end of the world when he will be destroyed in the final punishment. Then, he will fight with the archangel Michael, as we are told by John: ‘A battle was fought with Michael the archangel.’

So too Gabriel, who is called God’s strength, was sent to Mary. He came to announce the coming One, who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers. Thus God’s strength announced the coming of the Lord, mighty in battle. Raphael means God’s remedy, for when he touched Tobit’s eyes in order to cure him, he banished the darkness of his blindness. Thus, since he is to heal, he is rightly called God’s remedy.

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