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Homily for the Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael at St. Michael’s

Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels
Revelation 12:7-12a
Psalm 138:1-2ab, 2cde-3, 4-5
John 1:47-51
September 29, 2016

Today is officially called the Feast of Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels.  They are the three angels found by name in the Bible.

Raphael appears in the Book of Tobit, one of the seven books in our Catholic Bible that are not part of the Protestant Bible.  In the story of Tobit, Raphael appears as a travelling companion to Tobit’s son, Tobiah.  After the journey is over, Raphael is the instrument of the healing of Tobit’s eyesight.  The name “Raphael” means “God heals.”

Gabriel is best known to us as the angel who appeared to Mary at the Annunciation to tell Mary she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus.  Before that, Gabriel appeared to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist to tell him that his wife Elizabeth was pregnant.  Both of these stories are found in the Gospel of Luke.  Gabriel is also mentioned in the Book of Daniel.  Gabriel means “man of God.”

Both Gabriel and Raphael serve important roles as servants of God but now I want to focus on Michael, the third archangel, who is the patron saint of our parish.

Michael is named in the Bible in the Book of Daniel, the Letter of Jude, and the Book of Revelation.  The last one is probably the most familiar one to people.  It is the story that we heard in the first reading today.  Michael, by the power of God, is the one who led the other angels in the triumphant victory against Satan.  “Michael” means “who is like unto God.”

With this in mind, Michael is often depicted as a warrior.  If you look at the statue to your right, you see Michael depicted with a sword.  If you look at the statue of St. Michael out in our garden behind the rectory, you see him standing on the serpent, symbolizing the defeat of Satan.  This is also the role focused on in the traditional Prayer of St. Michael.

I think this image of Michael is very important to us today as we struggle against the increasing temptations of our world.  We need St. Michael’s intercession and protection if we are to win the battle against temptation.

In recognition of his role in protecting us, St. Michael is the patron saint of soldiers and police officers.

While this role of St. Michael as warrior against evil is his most well-known role, it is not his only role.  There are stories of St. Michael serving in miraculous healings.  Following these healings, he is also known as a patron saint for doctors and for those facing sickness.

He is also known as one who leads the soul of the deceased to judgment.

There is one more role of St. Michael I would like to include here.  He is also known as the Guardian of the Blessed Sacrament.

The Blessed Sacrament, of course, is one of the names given to the Eucharist, the Body and Blood Jesus.

We know St. Michael as an archangel.  We tend to view angels as beings who always do the work of God and this would be true for Michael but we need to understand it as a choice he made.  Not all angels do the work of God.  Satan is a fallen angel who rebelled against God and had other angels follow him.

The choice between good and evil is always just that, a choice.  While Satan turned against God, Michael always remained loyal to God and serves as his warrior.  St. Michael has seen God in the heavenly kingdom.

We won’t experience God as St. Michael has until we pass from this life to the next.  That doesn’t mean God isn’t present in our world.  Ultimately, we know God is everywhere but there is a special way in which God becomes present to us that we see with our human eyes.

This is, of course, the Eucharist.

So, going back to what I said about St. Michael as the guardian of the Blessed Sacrament, I think is fitting that he serves in this role.  St. Michael is the protector of God’s kingdom and he protects Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

We come here on the Feast of St. Michael and the archangels but we do so during our diocesan Year of the Eucharist and the approach of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of our diocese.

On this, our parish feast, we come together as a community hearing God’s Word and strengthened by the Eucharist as the source and summit of our faith and we are as a Church.

Let us know come together to say the St. Michael prayer together, always asking for his aid against evil.

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

 

 

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