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Who are the Archangels? Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael

Julian Paparella

Friday, September 29, 2023

Mosaic of the Archangel Michael on the northern entrance of the Church of Saint Spyridon, Trieste, Italy. iStock photo.
At the end of September, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Archangels – Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. The word “angel,” or angelos in Greek, means “messenger.” Angels are therefore messengers of God, sent by Him to help us on the path to salvation. In this case, we could say that the archangels are like super-messengers of God, who are entrusted with particularly important missions. Notice that each of their names ends in “el,” a Hebrew ending referring to “God.” Michael – or Mikha’el in Hebrew – means “Who is like God?” Raphael means “God heals,” and Gabriel – Gabri’el in Hebrew – means “God is my strength.”
Each of the three archangels appear in the Bible. Raphael appears in the Book of Tobit (ch. 12), where he’s sent by God to help Sarah and Tobias to live a happy marriage. Raphael accompanies, guides, and advises the couple, and enables Tobias to cure his father's blindness. 
As for Gabriel, we are familiar with the story of the Annunciation in the Gospel of Luke: “The Angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary” (1:26-27). It is Gabriel’s greeting to Mary that we repeat each time we pray the “Hail Mary”: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (1:28).
Michael also appears in the New Testament, in the Book of Revelation. When Lucifer, the angel of light, rebels against God, Michael defeats him and expels him from Paradise (12:7-9). Michael is shown here, as he is in the Book of Daniel, as the leader of the army of God and the terror of demons. His name becomes a taunt against the pride of Lucifer, who wanted to take God's place (Isaiah 14:12-14). For many centuries, his intercession has been invoked to fight the spirit of evil and repel Satan. Michael the Archangel is the patron saint of the Archdiocese of Toronto, and the archdiocesan motto is the meaning of his name in Latin: Quis ut Deus?
The three archangels not only played a role in the Bible, they also have a role to play in our lives. Gabriel shows us that God is our strength, and reminds us not to be afraid and to fulfill God's purpose for us as Mary did. Raphael is a faithful guide on the path of healing that God wants to accomplish for each of us, in order to restore us in body, soul, and spirit. Michael is a powerful protector against the forces of evil, and especially the spiritual evil that can hinder and weigh us down. We can seek help from these three great heavenly messengers and servants of God. Let us ask for strength, healing, and protection from the Lord through the intercession of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Let us not hesitate to implore their help, especially in times of trial and struggle.
Together let’s pray to Saint Michael the Archangel, asking that the victory of Christ may reign in our lives.
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God,
cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

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