Homilette for Monday, September 29, 2008

Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels

(Revelation 12:7-12)

When the ghost of his father appears to Hamlet in Shakespeare’s famous play, Hamlet is alone. The ghost then explains to Hamlet how he was murdered. When Hamlet’s friends arrive and ask what news he has, Hamlet demands an oath of secrecy before he will tell them. The voice of the ghost chimes in to underscore the need of swearing secrecy. Hearing that voice, Hamlet’s companion Horatio blurts, “...this is wondrous strange.” The grand protagonist counters, “...There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, then are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Many people today – as, no doubt, in other ages -- find the doctrine of angels “wondrous strange” as Horatio found the ghost’s voice. Believing in only what they can see and hear, they doubt the existence of heavenly spirits. As Hamlet would say, angels are not parts of their philosophy. But we Catholics, who accept the spiritual realm where God dwells, should forthrightly accept the doctrine of angels. As Scripture attests in numerous places, angels exist as attendants to God carrying out His commands.

Today’s feast of the archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael really celebrates God’s mercy. As the stories of these angels show, God uses angels to assist humankind. As Michael wages war with Satan, as Gabriel announces the coming of Christ, and as Raphael guides the journeyer Tobias, so God continually sends angels to provide us the means to reach our eternal destination. We can think of angels as God’s loving hand extended to us in need.