Most modern names don’t reveal very much about the person who carries them. But that’s not true of the three archangels whom we honour today. Michael, whose name means “who is like God,” is remembered for his fight against Satan and his demons. Gabriel’s name means “strength,” and he certainly gave strength to Our Lady when he told her she would be the Mother of God. Raphael’s name means “healer,” and he cured Tobit’s blindness.
Even though we know little about them we can’t help but admire the archangels. Like all the angels, they have remarkable abilities. As pure spirits, their knowledge and power are beyond our comprehension. But they’re not like the superheroes in children’s comics. Angels live to serve God and to worship him. Their wonderful gifts are only a pale reflection of God’s infinite perfection and beauty. Angels are fellow servants of God along with us, and their inspiration can lead us to worship God better.
The best way to honour the archangels today is to join them in worshipping God. We can take our cue from Nathanael; Our Lord told him he would see “the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man”. We have that same opportunity every day at Mass. We may not see the angels, but they are here, adoring Our Lord in his Eucharistic presence on the altar and, of course, in the tabernacle. They continue to worship God when we are not here. Along with them, we can be caught up in the love and holiness of the Son of God and be moved to offer him our lives.
What’s more, we can do something the angels can’t. We can receive Our Lord as spiritual nourishment in the Holy Eucharist. All the qualities of God that the angels share: his wisdom, love, and beauty, are contained in the Eucharist. And that’s what we are privileged to take into our bodies each day. God loves us so much that he shares his very life with us. And so let us be always aware that we worship God alongside the angels and may we join them in giving God all the praise and worship our hearts can muster.