Mass for the school children.
The world can be a confusing and scary place some times. Sometimes when we go on a journey, we lose our way and get loSaint Sometimes people get sick, or maybe they get hurt, or maybe they are blind or deaf. The world can be a lonely place for those who are sick. Then too, there is danger in lots of places, and sometimes we don’t feel very safe. And sometimes we don’t know the truth, or hear any good news. The truth is, lots of times, we need someone to help us. Sometimes we need to hear from an angel.
Today is the Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, all of them angels. Archangels, actually. Angels are messengers: that’s the meaning of the Greek word angelos, from which we get our word “angel.” Angels are beings that bring God’s message to us on earth, and who intercede for us in heaven.
Some angels are guides. We read about Saint Raphael in the Book of Tobit in the Old Testament. Saint Raphael appeared as a young man and accompanied Tobiah as he journeyed a long distance to get his father’s property and bring it back. Tobit, his father, was very worried about Tobiah making the journey, so he was looking for someone to help him. Raphael, posing as the young man, went with Tobiah and brought him home safely, along with his father’s property. Saint Raphael is the patron saint of travelers.
Some angels bring healing. The name Raphael actually means, “God heals.” Tobit, Tobiah’s father, was blind for a long time. So, along with bringing back Tobit’s property, Raphael and Tobiah brought back an ointment made of fish gall. Tobiah blew into his father’s eyes and smeared the medicine on them, and Tobit was able to see his son again! Raphael also healed a woman named Sarah. She was married seven times, but each of her husbands died on their wedding night, and Sarah thought she would be alone for the rest of her life. Raphael arranged for Tobiah and Sarah to be married, and they both lived very happily. Saint Raphael is also the patron saint of healing, especially of the blind.
Some angels are defenders. In the book of Revelation, Satan was trying to take over heaven and accused all of God’s followers, good people, of all kinds of crimes. Saint Michael fought against Satan and had him thrown out of heaven. He brought victory to God by being strong in the battle against Satan and all evil powers, and he still defends people against evil to this day by his prayers. Because he defends people, Saint Michael is the patron saint of police officers, and because he is powerful against evil, he is the special patron of the Pope.
Some angels are messengers. Saint Gabriel was the angel who came to tell Mary that she was going to be the Mother of Jesus. In Saint Luke’s Gospel, Saint Gabriel also comes to Saint Joseph, who was engaged to Mary, and reassured him. Joseph knew that he wasn’t the father of Jesus, so he was going to quietly call off the wedding. But Gabriel came and assured him that the baby Mary was going to have was from God, and because of what Gabriel told him, Saint Joseph stayed with Mary and became to earthly father of Jesus. Gabriel is known for the news that he brings, and is the patron saint of messengers, postal workers, communications workers and broadcasters.
Angels still work among us, because we need to hear God’s message too. Saint Raphael is still here, keeping us safe when we go on long journeys and, more importantly, helping us to stay on the path to God. He might be here, too, working through the hands of doctors and nurses and physical therapists, and all kinds of healers, to bring sick people back to health. Saint Michael is still here, working through police officers and fire fighters and all kinds of public safety people, in order to keep our communities safe, and Saint Michael also works through those who defend the Church against all kinds of evil. Saint Gabriel is still here among us, telling us how to follow Jesus; and he’s working through our parents and teachers and priests and ministers when they bring us news about God.
We know a little bit about all these angels because of the stories we read about them in the Bible. But I think the angels are still working among us, guiding us, healing us, defending us, and bringing us good news. The angels are probably working through people you know. Maybe they’re even working through you whenever you help someone else. The truth is, I don’t think we would live very safe and happy lives if it wasn’t for the angels among us. Today we should thank God for Saints Raphael, Michael and Gabriel, and for all the people who cooperate with those angels in all their work.