Homily for September 29, Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Rafael
For nice contemporary artistic representations of the archangels, visit Deacon Lawrence’s “Gryphon Rampant” website.
For more in-depth information on the angels, visit CatholicCulture.org’s website.
Few things in Christian doctrine are as present in the collective imagination of our culture as are angels, especially if we include both the good angels who serve God and fallen angels (also known as devils or demons). Countless movies and television shows have included them as important plot elements, and you can buy books on “the power of angels” next to books with titles like “the power of crystals”. Unfortunately, most of the time the true nature of angels is sorely misrepresented, and is mixed with all sorts of new-age nonsense and romantic fantasy.
While the images and stories in popular culture can be entertaining, it’s important that we remember who and what angels really are. Angels are not the souls of people who have died; they are purely spiritual beings, more powerful and intelligent than we are, created by God to serve Him in different ways. They praise Him in heaven and carry out tasks related to human beings, protecting and guiding us, and preparing and participating in the Final Judgment, as Jesus describes in some of His parables. The angels who rebelled against God seek to do the opposite. They try to lead human beings into sin, suffering, and final condemnation.
Today, we celebrate the memorial of three (often fictionalized but real) archangels. They are figures of particular importance in the Bible, in which they are mentioned by name: Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Rafael. St. Michael, whose name means “Who is like God?”, is described as a powerful angel who protects humankind and fights Satan and the other evil spirits. Gabriel, whose name means “power of God”, is the one who was sent on several occasions to bring good news to people, most particularly to announce to Mary that she had been chosen to be the mother of the Savior. Rafael, whose name means “God heals”, appears as an agent of physical and emotional healing in the book of Tobit.
Today, let us honor these angels for their service to God and humanity, and entrust ourselves to their care and protection. May these great servants of God also teach us to serve God and to emulate the angels by our love and service of God and of each other.