Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Archangels

     This 29th day of September is set aside by the Church to honor the three great champions and messengers of God to humanity - the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.  Except this year, since it falls on a Sunday and is superseded by our celebration of the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  But these three are too important to ignore, even for a year.

     There is a great fascination with angels in our society.  These heavenly creatures, a part of God's creative love, are committed to the love of God and the service to which he entrusts them.  They are guardians and protectors like the Guardian Angels celebrated on October 2nd.  They are champions of God like Michael who is honored today.  He championed God's cause when the prince of angels, the light bearer, Lucifer, turned rogue and became darkness.  We hear of the great battle in heaven, and the triumph of Michael over Lucifer.  They are messengers of God bringing the glad tidings of hope to an expectant people.  Gabriel was one such messenger, bringing the Good News to Mary in the Annunciation.  The choirs of angels announced Christ's birth and continue to sing his praise.  And angels bring not only the announcement of new life and birth, but of healing and the restoration of God's people, like Raphael.

     There is much misunderstanding regarding angels as well.  We hear the expression "You're an angel" or when someone dies that they have "become an angel in heaven".  Not true or accurate.  Wonderful as angels are in the order of created things, we are called to be saints, to be holy as the Lord our God is holy.  The Son of God never became an angel and sacrificed himself for them ... he became a human being, and through his death he made it possible for us to be holy.  On this great day of the Archangels, thank God for the spiritual and heavenly friends, but first of all thank God for the call to holiness that lifts us to the image and the likeness of God.

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