Written by Sr. Rosemary Finnegan, O.P.
Readings from: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/092920.cfm
Most of us are curious about angels, and children are no exception. Here are a couple of comments from children about angels:
- Mitchell comments: “Angels work for God and watch over kids when God has to go do something else.”
- And then there’s poor Henry: “My guardian angel helps me with math, but he's not much good for science.”
- Sarah wonders this: “What I don't get about angels is why, when someone is in love, they shoot arrows at them.”
- Gregory says: “I only know the names of two angels. Hark and Harold.”
Today we remember and celebrate 3 archangels by their names: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. That prefix ‘arch’ means ruling or chief in Greek, so in a religious context, an ‘archangel’ ranks above the other angels. They are the leaders.
The names themselves of these 3 archangels we know from Scripture are significant as well. In Hebrew, “El” is one of the words for God. Each of these special archangels’ names ends in “El”:
- Michael means “Who is like God”. In the Book of Revelation, Michael leads the battle in heaven against Satan, so Michael is thought of as the prince of the heavenly host of angels. He is invoked by us Christians when we’re fighting temptation and the influences of the devil. Michael is the patron of first responders, police and soldiers.
- Gabriel means “God is mighty”. He was the messenger sent from God to announce to Mary that she would give birth to the Savior. Mary’s ‘yes’ and the overshadowing of the Spirit show the might of God. Gabriel is the patron of all those in communication.
- Raphael means “God heals” and is associated with God’s healing power in the Book of Tobit where the angel travels with the young Tobias as a healer and companion. Tradition holds that Raphael also was the angel who stirred the waters at the famous healing pool in Bethesda, outside the temple in Jerusalem. Raphael is the patron of travelers and medical personnel.
Interestingly, the functions, or tasks, that have been given to these 3 archangels correspond with the 3 major focuses of Jesus’ ministry:
- Announcing good news
- Healing the sick
- Delivering the oppressed.
These archangels are meant to inspire us as we imitate their roles. May we live to serve God and worship him by sharing the good news of Christ, healing others through our forgiveness, and delivering the oppressed by our good works.
Michael the Protector, Gabriel the Messenger, and Raphael the Healer, we need you today. Pray for us.