Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels
(Revelation 12:7-12ab; John 1:47-51)
In Shakespeare’s famous play, Hamlet is alone when his father’s ghost reveals how he was murdered. Then Hamlet’s friends arrive asking what just happened. Before he tells them, Hamlet demands an oath of secrecy. At this point the voice of the ghost chimes in to underscore the need of secrecy. Hearing the voice but seeing nothing, Hamlet’s companion exclaims, “...this is wondrous strange,” to which Hamlet counters, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Like Horatio says of the ghost’s voice, many people find the doctrine of angels “wondrous strange.” Believing that only what they can see and hear actually exists, they doubt the reality of angels. To paraphrase Hamlet, angels are not parts of their philosophy. But we Catholics, who accept a spiritual order of reality, forthrightly admit the doctrine of angels. As Scripture attests in numerous places, angels exist as God’s attendants carrying out His commands.
The stories of the three archangels further reveal how angels extend God’s mercy. Michael wages war against Satan to free humans from tyranny; Gabriel announces the coming of mercy incarnate, Jesus Christ; and Raphael leads Tobias from peril to peace. We should happily admit that God sends angels as means for reaching our eternal destiny.