A Note on Today’s Readings | The Feast of St. Michael and All Angels – September 29.
Welcome to St. Gabriel’s Parish.
On the Feast of Michael and all Angels, popularly called Michaelmas, we give thanks for the
many ways in which God’s loving care watches over us, both directly and indirectly and we
are reminded that the richness and variety of God’s creation far exceeds our knowledge of it.
The Holy Scriptures often speak of created intelligences other than humans who worship
God in Heaven and act as His messengers and agents on earth. We are not told much about
them but Jesus speaks of them as rejoicing over penitent sinners (Lk 15:10). Elsewhere, in a
statement that has been variously understood (Mt 18:10), He warns against misleading a
child, because their angels behold the face of God.
Angels are referred to as “messengers of God,” or simply as “messengers.” The word for a
messenger in Hebrew is malach, in Greek, angelos, from which we get our word “angel.”
By the time of Christ, Jewish popular belief included many specifics about angels, with
names for many of them. There were thought to be four archangels, named Michael, Gabriel,
Raphael, and Uriel.
Michael (the name means “Who is like God?”) is said to be the captain of the heavenly
armies. He is mentioned in the Scriptures in Daniel 10:13,31; 12:1 (where he is said to be
the prince of the people of Israel); in Jude 9 (where he is said to have disputed with the devil
about the body of Moses); and in Revelation 12:7 (where he is said to have led the heavenly
armies against those of the great dragon). He is generally pictured in full armor, carrying a
lance, and with his foot on the neck of a dragon. (Pictures of the Martyr George are often
similar, but only Michael has wings.)
Gabriel (the name means “God is my champion”) is thought of as the special bearer of
messages from God to men. He appears in Daniel 8:16; 9:21 as an explainer of some of
Daniel’s visions. According to the first chapter of Luke, he announced the forthcoming births
of John the Baptist and of our Lord to Zachariah and the Virgin Mary respectively.
Raphael (the name means “God heals”) is mentioned in the Apocrypha, in the book of Tobit,
where, disguised as a man, he accompanies the young man Tobias on a quest, enables him to
accomplish it, and gives him a remedy for the blindness of his aged father.
Uriel (the name means “God is my light”) is mentioned in 4 Esdras.
It is thought by many scholars that the seven lamps of Revelation 4:5 are an image suggested
by (among many other things) the idea of the archangels.
May the Holy Angels always guard and protect us.