Friday June 8, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Tobit 11:5-17) Gospel (St. Mark 12:35-37)
In the first reading today, we hear again about Raphael. You recall that Saint Raphael is one of those angels whose names we know. There are only three angels whose names are listed in Scripture: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Raphael means "physician of God." The fact that he gave Tobiah medicine which would be able to heal his father, the fact that he was able to show Tobiah how to break the curse that was on Sarah, and a number of other things that happened demonstrate that he was, indeed, this physician. He is also the patron of travelers. For those who are traveling, it is a good thing to pray to Saint Raphael. He is also the patron saint of love. For any of our young people who are praying about their vocation and seeking a spouse, Saint Raphael is also a good person to pray to.
It is important that we recognize the importance of the holy angels. They are with us always. They are the messengers of God. It is an easy thing to forget that the angels are there because we cannot see them, but they are before the face of God always. Each one of us, of course, has a guardian angel. We celebrate their feast on October 2. The angels are present, worshipping God day and night. They are present helping us, guiding us, and guarding us. The angels perform a very important role in the work of salvation.
We know there are also fallen angels and they war with the good angels. The angels are directed toward us. It is an amazing thing, the angels are greater than we are by nature; yet, they were created for us. They are also created to glorify God, but God created the angels to serve us. The problem, however, is that when the angels fell (the bad ones) they continued to have their direction turned toward us. So, we have the good angels that are trying to serve us, and we have the bad angels that are trying to destroy us. There is this clash that is constantly taking place. Yet, God asks that, in the midst of all that, we keep our focus on Him. The angels help us to do that.
We need to make sure we are praying and asking the angels for help, that we turn to them and remember them because we know that they are real. It is an amazing thing how we, often times, remember the devil and the demons but we forget about the other half - the good angels. In fact, it is two-thirds. Scripture tells us that when Satan fell, he swept a third of the stars from the sky. A third of the angels fell, but two-thirds remained faithful to God. Your guardian angel, even by nature, is lower than Satan because Satan was the highest angel. By nature, your guardian angel is lower than Satan; but by grace, he is higher than Satan and he will help you. You need to pray to your guardian angel.
You can pray to Saint Raphael, Saint Gabriel, and Saint Michael. We know there are seven spirits around the throne of God, but we are not told the names of the other four. In one extra-biblical writing, there is one angel whose name is Ariel, which means "the fire of God." That is considered to be one of their names, but we do not know that for a fact. We only know the three. They are called archangels, by the way, because that means "the leading angels." They are actually seraphim and not archangels from the choir of archangels, which is the second-lowest, but rather they are the highest of the angels. So, we need to pray to them.
We see that God has given them to us for a purpose. That purpose is to guide us through this world and bring us to heaven. We can trust them and count on them. We need to, especially in our day and age where Satan has a lot of power. He has been given a lot of free reign to do things in the world. In that case, the work of the holy angels is going to be even more heightened for us. They are there, but we need to ask for their help. We need to take advantage of the fact that God has given them to us.
Jesus tells us in the Gospel that He is Lord. The Messiah is Lord. That is what the angels help us to understand: to trust in Jesus Christ, to keep our focus on Jesus Christ. That is what they do constantly, day and night, and that is what they will help us to do, as well. As we see the work of Raphael helping Tobiah by working through all these things, so too, we can take it from there and pray to those angels. We can remember our own guardian angel and pray to him, knowing that he has been given to us by God for the very purpose of leading us through this life to the face to face vision of God in eternity.
Note: Father Altier does not prepare his homilies in advance, but relies solely upon the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.