Tuesday 29 July 2014

Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels - Feast

There are many things in this world which we believe because we have experienced and seen these things. There are also many things in this world which we have not seen. Some things not seen we still believe; some things not seen and we do not believe. But regardless whether we have seen or not, there are things which we do not see, and yet they are there. Some of us subscribe to an empirical attitude, where something is based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic. But there are times empiricism or an empirical attitude fails us, and faith and trust is needed.

Few humans throughout history have had the privilege to see an archangel, let alone an angel. But throughout scripture, we see some examples where angels have made themselves present. Today we celebrate the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels. The name Michael means "who is like God." In Scripture, it was St. Michael who long ago led the battle against Satan (Rev. 12:7-9) and his will is focused and driven toward accomplishing goodness: he is a protector of souls, and wields his sword of righteous justice against Satan. Gabriel means "God is my strength." In Scripture, He appears to Zechariah (Lk 1:13) and Mother Mary (Lk 1:27-28). Gabriel brought us God's message of strength in which we draw our hope: God Incarnate was soon to enter history for love of man. Raphael means "God is my health." Raphael is one of seven angels "who enter and serve before the Glory of the Lord" (Tob 12:15). The meaning of Raphael's name reflects the fact that he touched Tobit's eyes in order to heal them of blindness.

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we read: "St. Augustine says: "'Angel' is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is 'spirit'; if you seek the name of their office, it is 'angel': from what they are, 'spirit', from what they do, 'angel.'" With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they "always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven" they are the "mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word" (CCC 329). The Catechism of the Catholic Church also reminds us: "From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life." Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God" (No. 336). This tells us that the angels are always around: guiding, protecting and watching over us. We do not see them, yet they are there.

In today's Gospel, Jesus gives us another example of not seeing but believing. In the Gospel, we read: "When Jesus saw Nathanael coming he said of him, ‘There is an Israelite who deserves the name, incapable of deceit.’ ‘How do you know me?’ said Nathanael ‘Before Philip came to call you,’ said Jesus ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ Nathanael answered, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel.’ Jesus replied, ‘You believe that just because I said: I saw you under the fig tree. so You will see greater things than that.’"

Do we still need to see with our eyes to believe? Sometimes we see or do not see because our eyes can deceive us. For example, we see water in a desert, we think that there really is water, but in actuality, it is merely a mirage. Let us open our hearts and minds, so that we may "see" through the "eyes" of our hearts, and through the "eyes" of faith.

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