Saint Of The Month

Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael

There are two passages in the New Testament where the archangel Michael engages in a great cosmic battle against the Devil. In the book of Jude we read of Michael contending with the Devil over the body of Moses, rebuking the evil one in God's name. The imagery reveals that with the triumph of Jesus evil no longer reigns throughout the cosmos, but remains on earth as the enemy of all who seek to follow God's will.

The New Testament here takes over a figure from the Old - for in the Book of Daniel Michael is twice represented as the helper of God's chosen people. Gabriel too is an archangel who assists Daniel, this time in understanding his visions. And Gabriel has a special role in the New Testament. To Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, he announces the future birth of this prophet. And his is the message to the Virgin Mary that in the power of the Holy Spirit she will bring forth the Savior Jesus.

Raphael appears in the Books of Tobit and of Enoch as one of the seven archangels who stand in God's presence. Tobit represents him as hearing the prayers of godly men and bringing them before the Almighty. Enoch speaks of fallen angels defiling the earth, which is then healed by Raphael.

Raphael in fact means 'God heals'. The meaning of Gabriel is 'man of God'. And Michael means 'the one who resembles God'. All three repeatedly appear in later Christian writings, with Michael usually envisaged as the leader of the heavenly host, and sometimes as the receiver of the souls of the departed to which the Negro spiritual 'Michael, row the boat ashore! Alleluia!' refers.

From A Calendar of Saints, The Lives of the Principal Saints of the Christian Year.

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