Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Greater Things Than This

September 29, 2011

Feast of Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and Saint Raphael, archangels

As the visions during the night continued, I saw coming with the clouds of heaven One like a son of man. When he reached the Ancient of Days and was presented before him, He received dominion, splendor, and kingship; all nations, peoples and tongues will serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, his kingship, one that shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14

Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree." Nathanael answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." Jesus answered and said to him, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this." John 1:47-50


Dear Saint Raphael, Angel of travelers, be with me and guide me on this journey. Protect me from sickness and danger and guard those I leave behind. Let your wings
enfold me while I am away and return me safely home. Amen.


The three archangels named in the Catholic Bible have each developed a popular affinity based upon the roles they had in the story of our faith.

Michael led the army of God during the uprising of angels that led to the expulsion of Lucifer/Satan from heaven. Thus, Michael has become the "de facto" saint of law enforcement officers, members of the military, and all who have careers devoted to public safety because of his role in protecting us from evil.

Gabriel is the messenger because he announced the good news to young Mary of Nazareth that her faith had allowed her to be chosen above all others throughout time as the mother of the Son of God. He appeared two other times in Sacred Scripture. Once was to the prophet Daniel to explain the prophet’s visions relating to the Messiah. The final time Raphael appeared to Zachary in the temple to announce the coming of Zachary’s son, John the Baptist, and to strike Zachary mute for his disbelief. Based on these roles, he is the patron saint to radio and television workers, postal workers, and more.

Raphael is the companion to travelers. He travelled with (and guarded) Tobiah, and cured a man’s blindness; hence his connection with travelers, young people, blindness, healing and healers.

Unlike the legions of other angels and saints on the cloud of witnesses who protect and guard us and intervene to carry our prayers to the ear of God -- like Facebook friends in heaven amplifying our message to be heard -- these three are actually named in the Bible narrative. In fact, some of these angels also are referenced in Jewish and Muslim religions. St. Thomas Aquinas noted, "Angels transcend every religion, every philosophy, every creed. In fact angels have no religion as we know it...their existence precedes every religious system that has ever existed on earth."

Unlike saints, who are humans who were born, died and have an earthly history or biography, angels have no known human ancestry. Certainly they have "appeared" before witnesses and have a reference in salvation history and culture but they are above humans and below God in the hierarchy of creation.


They are not glorified human beings -- even though in the case of the three we celebrate today -- we have given to them human qualities. However, perhaps it is because we (humans) can take on the roles of angels to others protecting them and caring for them that they become real in our lives. Guiding. Revealing. Protecting. Worshipping. Praising. Strengthening. Encouraging. Answering prayers.

To whom have YOU been angel-like? Who has been angel-like to you?