Thursday, September 29

Lessons from the Saints - Archangels Gabriel, Michael and Raphael

Today is the feast of the Archangels Gabriel, Michael and Raphael (formerly Michaelmas).  I have put some thought into reinforcing last years post about Mike, but in searching for a suitable image for today, something struck me which resonates. There is page after page of images depicting angels in glory with streaming light and awesome, but either by themselves or entirely over-awing and overshadowing the 'normal' people in the image (as seen at left).

Trouble is that it entirely undermines the purpose of what angels (and archangels) are about.  It is not about the pretty boi with the wings and the shiny halo.  It is about Who sent said angel and why they were sent.  If, as in the case of Gabriel, it is to deliver a message, the message is important and not the messenger.  If we are talking about Michael, it is about G-d, not he whose name asks "who is like G-d"?

When you read the story of Tobit, Raphael doesn't spread his wings and speak with a voice like a trumpet.  He spends the story as Azariah, a kinsman and friend to Tobias, working with him by giving sage advice and useful assistance rather than commanding from on high.  In short, he is the Raphael of the image to the right, not above.  At any point, Tobias could have ignored the advice, refused the assistance and gone his own way. 

I guess that's where this is going (and no, this is not where I started at all).  Even the greatest of angels are our brothers and sisters, fellow servants of the Divine who do their part in the great plan just as we do ours.

When we look to them, or to any of the saints, for inspiration, guidance and assistance (and I see no reason why we shouldn't), we should take care to recall that they labour for the same end as we should - the glory of G-d.


  1. I used to be a Christian Scientist and I love Mrs. Eddy's definition of angels - she says they are "God's Thoughts passing to man; spiritual intuitions, pure and perfect"

    I also like your idea that others in our lives may be angels.. Angels unaware....sometimes to us and sometimes even to themselves.

    Thank you for your thoughts.

  2. I love the book of Tobit. It is exactly how these angelic beings work with us--you never get the punch line until it's too late. Tobit is one of the most entertaining books in the whole bible.