HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF THE ARCHANGELS: MICHAEL, GABRIEL AND RAPHAEL.
By: Fr. Karabari Paul
HOMILY THEME: ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.’
According to the Tradition of the Catholic Church, there are nine ranks of angels: Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones, Dominions, Virtues, Powers, Principalities, Archangels, Angels. The leader of these nine ranks is the Archangel Michael. His name means, “Who is like unto God,” the name he earned challenging and then casting out Lucifer, Satan, from heaven when he sought to challenge and be equal with God.
God sent the Archangel Michael to lead the Israelites as a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night as a sign of God’s protection and presence in the Exodus. He appeared to Joshua before the battle of Jericho (Josh. 5), and he transported the Prophet Habakkuk to feed Daniel in the lion’s den (Dan. 12). St. Michael bears a flaming sword, symbol of God’s victory over evil. Satan attempted to make himself equal with God, to challenge God, his Creator. He divided the angelic powers, as sin always divides, bringing a third of the angelic host with him (the demons that tempt and serve the evil one).
The Archangel Michael is the faithful, courageous, and humble angelic response to Lucifer’s pride. But not only is he an answer to Satan, but to man as well, who sets his own autonomy and tends to make God subjective to his or her own whims, to believe he can make his own path to God instead of following the Way God has revealed that leads to life. Since pride caused our downfall and continues to be our chief temptation from which so many other sins and vices come, St. Michael is, then, a reminder of the central place of humility.
This revelation of the Incarnation, God calling us back to paradise, life with Him, is the particular province of the Archangel Gabriel, who reveals the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy that a virgin will be with child and that His name will be Emmanuel, “God with us” (Is. 7:14).
Gabriel, whose name means “Might of God,” is often shown in the holy icons holding a branch from paradise His revelation to the Virgin Mary proclaims the return to paradise, the return to grace that Christ’s Incarnation and defeat of death accomplish. He announces the invitation to return to God’s presence through participation in His divine life. He is the angel of good news. Moslems believe that Gabriel (Jibril) brought the Quran by asking Muhammed to recite it in his divine encounter with Allah.
St. Raphael’s name means, “God heals,” and it reminds us of God’s miraculous healing and salvation, both temporal and eternal, in this life and, ultimately, in the life to come with God in heaven. The Archangels are an ever-present reminder to us that God calls all to salvation, to new life in Him.
The First Reading (Daniel 7:9_10, 13-14) describes the greatness of God’s presence and the worship that follows. In every divine service, we join our voices with these our holy patrons, the angels and archangels, to proclaim God’s salvation and commune with Him and all the heavenly host.
Do we acknowledge in our actions that there is no other God (Michael) but He who has revealed Himself to the world as Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, through the Incarnation of His Word, Jesus Christ? Do we strive to reflect in our daily lives this truth: that no one is God’s equal (Gabriel), that He is the One “who was, and is, and is to come,” the One who saves, the only Lover of mankind? Do we live out this truth by prioritizing our life in Christ who has healed us (Raphael) through the power of the cross? Those who live out this truth are those who consciously strive, begging God, to live to His glory and do His will, to become possessors of angelic courage and humility as witnesses of Christ and His truth in our world today. To them Jesus says in the Gospel (John 1:47-51), “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”
The Archangels are here to guard us from the evil one and his minions, and to guide us in the way of truth and life that is Christ God. He has given us the Holy Archangels such powerful protectors and intercessors that we may have boldness and faith to remove sin and the passions from our lives and join the angelic chorus in proclaiming, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and all the angelic hosts, intercede for us before the merciful God, to save our souls! GOD IS STILL ON THE THRONE. May God have mercy on us, heal our world, bless and protect us all through Christ Our Lord Amen. Good morning.