Being Archangels

29 September 2009 Feast of Archangels Michael, Gabriel, Raphael
Rev 12, 7-12; Psalm 138; John 1: 47-51


We celebrate today the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. These archangels are found in Scripture as well as many references to angels. Michael is seen as the protector of the people of God. Gabriel is the messenger of God in the Annunciation of the Birth of Jesus to Mary. Raphael is the healer in the book of Tobit. The date today coincides with the Dedication of the Basilica of St. Michael, located northeast of Rome.

In the midst of the flood that displaced a large number of families in Manila, the roles of the archangels can teach us what we need to do:

First, we take Michael’s role as the protector of the people. As the death toll rises to 240 from the typhoon Ondoy (international name Ketsana) and many people lost their homes and are now in evacuation centers, we are challenge to protect people from hunger and help rebuild their homes. And thus if we are to take in the role of the Archangel Michael, then we can donate food, clothing, water bottles, blankets, and other basic necessities needed for the victims to regain their morale and their battered physical lives.

Second, we take Gabriel’s role as God’s messenger. To bring Good News to the poor, as Jesus said, is give hope to people who have been traumatized by the calamity. Thus, relief operations are not just about the care for the victims’ physical well-being, but also feeding their distressed souls from losing hope. Julius Babao, one of our famous newscasters said, that in the midst of these storms in our lives, one can see the overflowing volunteers who are willing to do anything for them.

Here at the Ateneo Covered Courts, the center of relief operations, we have a deluge of good-hearted people presenting themselves as volunteers or as donors. This is the good news: that we are able to weather storms in our lives, because there are many generous people who are willing to offer their time and services for people in need.
At the Covered Courts, all relief operations stops at 11:30 AM for the mass. This is important. When Jesus said that there are two greatest commandments, He said that the first of all these commandments is to love God and from which flows the second commandment, which is to love our neighbors as ourselves. This means that loving our neighbors do not necessarily mean to love God. By being at mass we are witnessing to what Jesus said: that the source of our love for our neighbors spring from our love of God. There are those who do not find loving God important, or those who do not love God, but they love their neighbors. These are the people who will not find caring for the soul important: they will not pray, they will not worship, they will not attend retreats and recollections, they will not decide to stop and give an hour to the Lord. But at least here at the Ateneo Covered Courts, we show that when we say AMDG or “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam” (For the Greater Glory of God), all our works and our hearts spring from this one and only love.

Finally, we take the role of Raphael. Raphael rebuilt the lives of Tobit and his family through healing. Healing may mean the rebuilding of devastated lives back into a wholeness. Thus, the role of Raphael, if taken to heart, challenges us to retain and maintain our passion to be of service even after the first wave of relief operations; the second wave, is what we call rehabilitation. The victims have to return to their normal lives, and in order for us to help them, we have to provide the things they need to build their homes and the spirits again. So that the wounds from the tragedy will heal. Only when this profound restoration happens, can they begin to “live” again.

Angels help us look at our hearts so that we are able to encounter God. And in this encounter, we are led to reach out to people outside of ourselves. Whatever role we take — Michael’s, Gabriel’s and/or Raphael’s — the result will always lead us to God. Love is always overflowing. It cannot be kept all for ourselves. A natural lover thinks always of the Beloved. This is the truth that angels teach us: God is the one who ultimately protects, saves and heals us. Only if we make ourselves available to this qualities of God can we become angels.

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