In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, let us remember the Synaxis of the Holy Archangel Gabriel, who is God’s messenger to us, and was with us throughout the Holy Scriptures. We remember father among the saints, St Julian, Bishop of Cenomanis (Le Mans) in Gaul. Holy Archangel Gabriel, St Julian of Gaul, pray for us!
St Julian, Bishop of Le Mans, was the Apostle to Celtic Gaul. The saint was one of the 72 disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, and has been named as the same Simon the Leper where our Lord Jesus Christ once had supper (St Matthew 26:6-13, St Mark 14:3-9). When the holy father St Julian came to believe in our Lord, he eventually arrived in Gaul to reach out to the people. He was a wonderworker who healed many who were sick, and brought many to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ through his fervent and compassionate prayers for people.
In the Church, “synaxis” (Greek) or “sobor” (Slavonic), means “gathering together for liturgical worship”.
We therefore celebrate the Synaxis today of the Holy Archangel Gabriel, one of the important Biblical figures mentioned and acknowledged from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Archangel Gabriel was not only a messenger, since all angels are, but he is also a ministering spirit of the Lord, one who comes close to mankind in service to God. Beyond bringing important revelations from God to us throughout Biblical history, such ministering spirits of angels often guide and protect us as well (Psalm 91:9-13, Joshua 5:14-15, Jude 9, Daniel 12:1, Rev 2).
Angels have appeared to many, including holy prophets of old, our Most Holy Theotokos especially (visitations by the Archangel Gabriel), and many saints from early Christian history right up to today. Unlike the pagan and consumerized depictions of angels, we concern ourselves only with the Biblical and patristic mentions of angels.
For example, Coptic 4th century saint St Bishoy, saw an angel appear, directing the saint to where he would settle down as a hermit. From where he settled, the saint grew spiritually with abundant love and kindness for fellow monks and many others.
God gifts us with His Mercy every second of our lives. It is often our own blindness and pride that prevent us from seeing exactly how God intends to guide us towards Truth and Eternal Life. He never did promise an easy journey, only that He would love us eternally and He would gift us with subtle signs and sometimes even wonders along our journeys, so that we can strive towards Him. And in the same light, God sometimes would gift us with angels, whom we may not see, to guide and protect us along our spiritual journeys. The closer we attempt to repent, to pray unto God, and to seek God, the more obstacles erected by the evil one, will surface and confront us. In every such obstacle, God’s angels are there to guide us and protect us. It takes our humility, our tears, our repentance, and our repeated unceasing prayers unto God, that we begin to realize, God’s Mercy at work, visible or invisible, obvious or subtle.
The holy angels are not at a standstill. According to holy father St Gregory the Theologian, “Some of the angels stand before God, and others cooperate with the holding of the world”. Our beloved father among the saints, St Nikolai Velimirovich, once said, “Whom Christ loves, His angels love too”. Likewise, St Basil the Great once said, “Angels will not retreat from us unless we drive them away by our own evil deeds.”
The glorious second coming of our Lord and Christ, as He comes to judge, will reveal the holy angels’ presence then as well (St Matthew 13:43). And what better inspiration to stand firm in our ever frail faith, to repent and pray often unto God, than Psalm 81:1-6? It is with tears we think of holy angels, as the holy father St Nikolai Velimirovich said so beautifully, that the angels, holy and untarnished, are our elder brethren. Holy angels, hosts of God, pray for us all!
When we call upon the Holy Name often, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”, remember also to pray for the intercession of the saints, including our Most Holy Theotokos, saints, and also, archangels and angels of God.
Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:
It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.
O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Psalm 91:9-13 (LXX 90)
St Luke 10:16-21