I preached this homily at St. Edward Church in Nashville, Tennessee to the kindergarten through 8th grade (and any other parishioners who happened to be attending daily Mass).
So we have 3 archangels that we honor today in this feast day. Michael Gabriel and Raphael.
Notice each one of those names have to “El” at the end. That’s a short version of the name for God in Hebrew. The reason that’s important is each one of their names is talking about God. So Michael’s name means “Who is Like God,” and he’s always the one we see with the sword; he is the one that in that first reading finally vanquishes Satan. Gabriel means “The Strength of God.” We will come back to him. Rafael means “The Healing of God.” He appears in the book of Tobit in the Old Testament and guides Tobit son through everything that happens to him and heals Tobit’s father’s eyes. So he’s “The Healing of God.”
So I said would come back to Gabriel because he’s the one I want to focus on. We all know of Gabriel as the one who brought Mary the message that should be the mother of God. He appears in other places in Scripture, too. He appears to Daniel twice in the book of Daniel. He is the one who brings Daniel messages about what’s going on and what’s gonna happen with Israel. Because of that, in the tradition, Gabriel, “The Strength of God,” is the one who announces war. He announces battles to come. He announces that the battle has begun.
We usually think of Michael. I always thought Michael would be the one to announce a war; he’s got all the war stuff. Gabriel just came to say you’re having a baby.
I would propose to you that the message to Mary, “You are having a baby, The Son of God is coming among us,” is an announcement of war. That is God’s final announcement of open warfare on all the powers of evil. It’s the announcement that we are part of that war. With the strength of Christ in us, with God’s help, we fight that war here on earth. There’s a term used for all of us fighting on earth for all of us in the church on earth alive right now: Church Militant, Fighting Church. We are the ones who, in this world, God has given the responsibility to turn things around, to fight the powers of evil, to bring the world to what God meant it to be in the first place.
Now, you’re young right now. You’re telling me “I’m too young to deal with any of this.” Right? Wrong. No Way. Because the fact is you all are part of that fight. You’re coming up into the world that the fight’s already going on. God talked to the prophet Jeremiah, and Jeremiah tried that excuse. Jeremiah tried, “I’m too young. Don’t ask that of me. I’m not ready. Not gonna happen yet.” And God specifically said, “Don’t say ‘I’m too young.’ For I will give you what to do. I will guide you, and I will take care of you.”
So that open warfare is going on. We are here to bring good into the world and to be the first step at the end of the power of darkness in the world. And so, no matter how young anyone in here is, you are a member of that army of God. You’re in it because you’ve been baptized. You’re part of that army.
To protect you as part of that army, God has given us all kinds of protection. The Archangel Michael who we pray to at the end of every Mass: “Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.” That’s why we’re saying that. The battle’s begun. We’re in it.
I find it interesting that we ended up with a Legionary of Christ. As a part of as a guest here mass today. What’s a legionary? What’s that word mean? It’s a Roman soldier. So the order that he belongs to are the soldiers for Christ. They have taken on that role to lead the army, to lead the charge. Hear in this parish you have father Dan leading the charge. In the diocese of Nashville, you have bishop Choby guiding us and leading the charge.
My friends were in the war.
The war has begun.
Gabriel, “The Strength of God” announced the open warfare. Michael, the general of God’s armies leads that warfare. Rafael helps to bring healing to us on God’s behalf, the healing power of God. We seek strength through the Lord, protection through the Word of God. Paul described the whole armor of God being put on so that we can enter war.
So, my friends, this one I know is a little harder and little more challenging than most of the homilies I give to you. But it’s important. The war has begun. It’s our job to fight, our job to bring good to the world to conquer evil. And the fact is we know how the story ends. We have a big advantage right now in that in that we already read the last page of the book, and we know God wins. And he’s letting us be part of it. But it is our responsibility. So seek God’s help. Fight the war. Help make the world what God meant it to be from the beginning.