Monday, September 26, 2011

Feast of Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael- Reflections, Fr. Michael Udoekpo

Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels- Reflections
Readings: Dan 7:9-10, 13-14 or Rev 12: 7-12ab; Ps 138: 1-2ab, 2cde-3, 4-5 and John 1:47-51

I have no doubt that I was selected to preside over today’s liturgy, Feast of Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael because I was named Michael by my parents at Baptism, at the watch of Fr. Walsh an Irish missionary.  Yesterday I was looking at the faculty listing to see if I could find, Fr.  Gabriel or Dr. Raphael on the faculty, there was none. But I know we have many Michaels and perhaps Gabriel and Raphael in the community as a whole. And I want to wish all of you including myself, a happy feast day.

Michael, (who is like God), Gabriel (the power of God) and Raphael (God’s medicine, or God heals); these three archangels have always been venerated throughout the history of the church. They are Scriptural as well.  We find Michael as the champion and defender of believers in the Book of Daniel10:13-21; in Revelation 12:7 and in Jude chapter 9. Gabriel features in bearing the good news of the mystery of the incarnation in the first chapter of Luke. While Raphael is found in the Book of Tobit, caring of Tobias on his journey.

Their existence is always proof of God’s loving care for humanity, for us. A divine care presented in symbolic imageries, in dualistic and apocalyptic languages of today’s Bible readings. I know of some priests and pastors who take a mini-vacation or accept Doctor's appointment when Daniel and the Book of Revelation show up at Liturgy. For them they are so difficult  to preach on, to interprete. They look for another priest to celebrate Mass that day for them!

Daniel 7 or Revelation chapter 12 consistently bears the Good News of hope, the gospel of encouragement for the oppressed, consolation for the persecuted and courage for the distressed believers and lovers of God of all times and culture, beginning from the 2nd Century BC, through the 1st century Christianity to our time.  The defeat of the symbolic dragon by Archangel Michael encourages each of us to hold onto that faith mindful of the help and defense these Archangels. When we hang out with them we can always resist temptation, receive healings and conquer all kinds  of difficulties and "dragon" of adversities in this life.

Even in our personal vocation, of various levels and roles here in the Seminary, as students, staff and professors we want to continue to see what we are doing here as a divine call. This is the same call that we hear Christ the Son of Man calling his first disciples Andrew, Peter, Philip and Nathanael in today’s Gospel. They were call to be messengers, angels to their neighbors. Nathanael who was studying and teaching the Torah under the fig tree is proclaimed a perfect Israelite.  None of us is perfect. With the helps of these angels we are invited each day to strife after perfection in Christ, to be  his messengers. 

 Responding to this call, learning the Torah, mastering Christ, his values and vision not our own visions could be met by all kinds of “dragons’, challenges and road blocks of personal preconception. This is where we need God’s Grace and guidance of the Archangels. We also want them to help us become our brothers and sisters keepers, to become angels and messengers to our neighbors, within and outside this Seminary. And we are call to do this by words, deeds, thoughts and our daily body languages.

As we celebrate this feast today let us pray that Michael, Gabriel an Raphael the Archangels may intercede for us, protect us from all dragons and evils of our time, and inspire each of us to constantly imitate Christ in the midst of our daily work and studies and in the way we relate “angelically” with our neighbors, students, staff and fellow professors. Peace be with you.