The word “angel” literally means “messenger of God.” Today we celebrate the feast day of Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and the archangels. Many people might think this feast is one of the more abstract ones, understandably so. But the angels truly have concrete impacts on the lives of disciples every single day. Investigating the impact each of these angels had on salvation history can aid us in viewing what they have to say to us in our current circumstances.
St. Michael is the best known of the three for many reasons. He is the only angel in the Bible that is referred to as an “archangel” meaning he is a chief messenger of the Lord (Jude 9). Michael is also called “one of the chief princes” which implies that there are others that are in his same angelic club. Daniel also states that St. Michael is the “guardian of your people” (Daniel 12:1). He is the one who stands guard over God’s nation.
So angels are messengers and they announce God’s reign, truth, and power. However, they also have another critical role for our individual salvation – they watch over us. Even more so, they stand guard over God’s people. It is not good enough for the Lord to create the world out of nothing and craft you into being as having an immortal soul. Like any good father, he sends protection for his children. St. Michael personifies this truth and stands watch over the hearts of God’s people. He has done so in the past, and he continues to do so now – even for you.
The angel Gabriel is famous for being the messenger who announces that Mary will conceive the Savior of the World, but he is first mentioned in the Book of Daniel. We are told that “one who looked like a man,” stood before Daniel and commanded that Gabriel explain a vision to him. St. Gabriel then begins to explain a vision of God to Daniel that concerns the end times (Daniel 8:15-17).
Here, God’s messenger stands as the one who will explain what God will accomplish. Michael can show us that God watches out for us and Gabriel highlights the fact that God desires for us to know the good He has in store for us as well as the dangers that could await us. God does not leave us in the dark to our own devices, but desires for us to know Him and have an understanding of His providence.
Gabriel appears again in a nowhere town named Nazareth to a poor teenage girl named Mary. He is sent by God to deliver the most important message of all time: God will become one of us and He will definitely save His people. The first words of Gabriel to Mary are, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). The Greek salutation, chaire, can also be translated as “Rejoice!”
God reveals yet another aspect of His use of angels: He desires to share joy through them. It would be right and just to picture Gabriel coming to Mary, beaming, with a smile on his face. He is delivering the news that all of creation has been waiting for since the Fall of Adam and Eve. God could have simply snapped His fingers and Jesus could have been conceived in Mary’s womb. Yet again, we see that, in his Fatherhood, God desires for others to share in His joy. He will not save the world alone; He shares the spotlight with his angel Gabriel and with a lowly and humble woman from the middle of nowhere.
Finally, Raphael appears in the Book of Tobit as the guide for his son Tobias. Raphael is in human disguise and leads Tobias through many adventures, ultimately ending with his marriage to his wife Sarah. Raphael shows us that angels often go unnoticed, but that they are always close at hand, waiting to guide us to where we need to be.
So many people, even Catholics, will overlook the importance of the feasts of the Guardian Angels and Archangels because we are speaking about immaterial beings. The angels we celebrate are not human beings. However, we all know that invisible realities are out there. Simply because we cannot see them does not mean they are not real. Jesus Christ comes to destroy the powers of evil and sin and death–all invisible realities that cannot be seen for themselves, but that are certainly impacting our world.
Today, let us allow the power of the Archangels and Guardian Angels to aid us in seeing something about God that we tend to overlook at times. As a perfect Father, He desires for us to be protected, for us to understand His plan and for us to have guidance on our journey to Him.
In the angels, His Fatherhood shines bright. So, let’s catch a glimpse of that light today.
All you angels and saints, pray for us.
Image courtesy of Unsplash.