In the Holy Scriptures, angels are often depicted as messengers from the divine, with only three specific angels being named: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.
Who are the Archangels?
In Daniel's vision, Michael is known as "the great prince" who protects Israel from its enemies. In the Book of Revelation, he leads God's armies to defeat the forces of evil and secure ultimate victory. The earliest devotion to Michael dates back to the fourth century in the East, and in the fifth century, the Church in the West began honoring Michael and the angels with a feast.
Gabriel appears in Daniel's visions and announces Michael's role in God's plan. He is famously known for appearing to Mary, a young Jewish girl, who agrees to bear the Messiah.
Raphael's involvement is limited to the Old Testament tale of Tobit. In this story, he seems to assist Tobit's son, Tobiah, in a sequence of extraordinary adventures culminating in three joyful outcomes: Tobiah's union with Sarah, Tobit's recovery from blindness, and the reinstatement of the family's wealth.
What is their Role?
There is a movie starring John Travolta entitled Michael. Its promotional poster says: "He is an angel, not a saint." While the film emphasizes the protagonist's quirk and instincts more, it speaks adequately of what angels are. The visiting Michael inspires the depressed guy who thinks his problems can be solved alone. Michael invites the guy to open up and live close to higher forces and possibilities.
Angels live not by wings, swords, and stumping feet. They live by staying close to where God is. They make God known through worldly instruments like language, thought, and emotions but do not impose on us. They allow us to say our piece—like Gabriel before Mary. They are not like the devils who possess and render us enslaved. Angels demonstrate how we human beings are capable of living like God.
What do they Teach Us?
The Church celebrates the feast of Archangels and reminds us of our duty towards fellow human beings to guard like Michael, heal like Raphael, and be a source of strength like Gabriel. Then, the vision Jesus said to Nathanael, will be made a reality here on earth. The vision that Jesus told reminds us of Jacob's vision, where the Angels of God ascended and descended the ladder.
The stories of Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael serve as timeless reminders of the angelic presence in our lives. They teach us that angels are not distant beings with wings, but messengers of God who inspire us to open our hearts to higher possibilities.
As we celebrate the feast of Archangels, let us remember our duty to guard, heal, and strengthen one another. By living like angels, we can bring God's vision of love and unity to life on Earth, where we can ascend the ladder of compassion and grace.
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About Father Boby John, C.S.C.
Father Boby John, C.S.C., ordained a priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross in 2008, worked as a pastor and as an educator with tribal populations in Northeast India for thirteen years. Originally from Kerala, India, Father Boby grew up with three siblings. He is a dedicated and detailed educationist with experience in educational leadership. He is currently working as an executive assistant at the world headquarters of Holy Cross Family Ministries, North Easton, Massachusetts.