Friday, 24 October 2008
Feast of St Raphael - The Medicine of God
Today is the feast of St Raphael, whose name, St Gregory tells us, means 'Medicine of God'. Most of what we know about the Archangel Raphael comes from the Book of Tobit, which records that St Raphael is:
"...one of the seven angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Holy One." (Tobit 12:15).
In Tobit, St Raphael travels with Tobit's son Tobias, in disguise, and helps him as he undertakes a long journey to retrieve desperately needed finances for the family. In the course of the journey, St Raphael guides Tobit in overcoming a demon who has been killing the husbands of one of his relations (and who he marries under St Raphael's instructions), acquires the means to heal his father's blindness, and of course solves the family's financial problems! Accordingly, St Raphael is frequently invoked as patron of travellers (though he is also patron of lovers, physicians and people with illnesses amongst many other things).
But it is in his role as a channel for spiritual and physical healing that we might want to particularly call upon him today, as the Gospel set for his Mass associates him with the angel who stirred up the healing waters in the pond called Probatica in Jerusalem, described in John 5:1-15 (you know the one, where from time to time, God sent an angel to stir up the waters, and whoever got in first was healed). In that story, Jesus heals the paralytic who had been there, trying for 38 years, but had no one to help him get into the pool. So we can all pray that our paralysis and ills - whether spiritual or physical - might be healed, whether by the waters stirred by the angel on our Lord's instructions, or directly by him:
of the glorious seven who stand before the throne of Him who lives and reigns,
Angel of health,
the Lord has filled your hand with balm from heaven to soothe or cure our pains.
Heal or cure the victim of disease.
And guide our steps when doubtful of our ways.