29 September, Thursday — Pride always comes before a great fall

Sep 29 – Feast of the Holy Archangels, Michael, Gabriel, Raphael

You should be aware that the word ‘angel’ denotes a function rather than a nature. Those holy spirits of heaven have indeed always been spirits. They can only be called angels when they deliver some message. Moreover, those who deliver messages of lesser importance are called angels; and those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels.

And so it was that not merely an angel but the archangel Gabriel was sent to the Virgin Mary. It was only fitting that the highest angel should come to announce the greatest of all messages. So too Gabriel, who is called God’s strength, was sent to Mary. He came to announce the One who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers. Thus God’s strength announced the coming of the Lord of the heavenly powers, mighty in battle.

  • from a homily by Pope St. Gregory the Great

Michael was the leader of the army of God during the Lucifer uprising. Devotion to him is common to Muslims, Christians and Jews, with writings about him in all three cultures. He is considered as the guardian angel of Israel, and the guardian and protector of the Church.

Raphael is one of the seven angels that stand before God’s throne. He is the lead character in the book of Tobit in which he travelled with (and guarded) Tobiah, and cured a man’s blindness; hence his connection with travellers, young people, blindness, healing and healers.

  • Patron Saint Index

Dan 7:9-10, 13-14
Jn 1:47-51

His sovereignty is an eternal sovereignty which shall never pass away, nor will his empire ever be destroyed.”

I cannot help but wonder sometimes at how our Church has survived through the ages. From humble beginnings of a perceived ‘cult’ led by a motley crew, consisting of uneducated fishermen, tax collectors, rebels and outcasts, it has grown to a community of 1.2 billion Catholics around the world. Through the last two thousand years, the Church has survived persecution, Christian wars, horrible popes, the Reformation, cover-ups, scandals, but the Catholic Church is still around, ministering to us believers.

Just to put things into context, every empire that aspired to rule the world has collapsed. All the great historical empires, the Babylonians, the Egyptians, the Persians, Romans, Greeks, British, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Aztecs, etc, have all come and gone. Even the mobile phone ‘empires’, Motorola, Ericsson, Nokia, etc…all have collapsed and are entered in the annals of history. Makes us really wonder how our Church survives when all those great empires have collapsed. It must really be by God’s grace that we have continued to thrive.

Of course, Jesus did tell Peter:

You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

I firmly believe that our Church continues to grow because of the many great men and women who have given their lives to the cause. More often than not, they have attracted people to the faith, not because of their eloquent words or impressive intellect, it is because of their humility and self-sacrificing actions that have inspired, encouraged and motivated Catholics around the world through the ages. What motivates these saints and holy people? It is their firm belief in Christ and following the two greatest commandments. To love God and to love our neighbour. It is through this love that they have submitted so humbly to God’s will.

I am a prideful person, and always pray for humility when I have to deal with situations in my work or ministry. I sometimes cannot understand why certain decisions are made when I think that there is an easier way, or when those decisions make no sense at all, in my opinion. In my pride, I can come across as aloof and arrogant. I do need to learn from these holy men and women to help proclaim God’s Kingdom and to work for His good.

Recently, there was a situation at work where I wanted to give some inputs into a plan. There was resistance to what I was suggesting and the person gave feedback to the CEO. All I wanted to do was to improve the situation, but it ended up being blown out of proportion. My wife always suggests that I pray the Serenity Prayer whenever these occasions occur, and that is something that I strive to do… not very successfully, I might add.

I humbly ask you, brothers and sisters, to pray for me to submit to God’s will and know that it is not what I want, but what God wants to me to do; and continue to do His will and help build His church here and now.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Calvin Wee)

Prayer: God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time.
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as he did, the sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it.
Trusting that he will make all things right
if I surrender to His will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
and supremely happy with Him forever. — Reinhold Niebuhr, 1892-1971

Thanksgiving: We give you thanks, heavenly Father, for the gift of our faith and the gift of the saints whose lives have touched all of us. We humbly ask you Lord, for your guidance as we strive to imitate their lives and action, their humility and, most of all, their steadfast love for You and for their neighbour. May we always be in communion with them as we continue to build your kingdom. Amen.


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