The first reading for the Feast of the Archangels comes from the central section of the Book of Revelation which focuses on a portrayal of evil, represented by a dragon. A battle breaks out between Michael “and his angels” and the dragon “and his angels.” Curiously both those on the side of good and those on the side of evil are both called angels.
Michael, whose name means “who is like God,” is the only one of the three archangels who is mentioned in today’s Scriptures. The other two, Gabriel and Raphael, appear in other books of the Scriptures. They are referred to as archangels, an honorific that seems to be reserved for angels who are mentioned in the Scriptures. In one sense, the term angel is too limiting because the word simply means “messenger.” However, the Scriptures depict them as warriors, as companions, guides, overseers, protectors and as members of the heavenly court. All of this seems to suggest that we should think of them as personifications of the loving presence of God among us and in us.
In any case, we understand angels best if we think of them as doing what all of us should be doing for each other; that is, serving as the means by which God heals, comforts, strengthens, and helps fellow human beings. That is basic to our Christian faith. God speaks to and comes to us most often through the kindness and love of our fellow human beings.
This viewpoint is borne out in our Gospel for today as Jesus mentions angels ascending and descending on the Son of Man. His remark is occasioned by the call of the Apostle Nathanael. Philip, who had been called as well, reached out to his friend Nathanael and brought him to Jesus. Philip shows us the way to be angels to one another.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator