The Holy Archangel Gabriel Gabriel is the herald of the Incarnation of the Son of God. He is one of the seven archangels who stand before the throne of God. He appeared to Zacharias to announce the birth of the Forerunner. Gabriel said of himself: I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God (Luke 1:19). His name Gabriel means “man- God.” The Holy Fathers, in speaking about the Annunciation, comment that an archangel with such a name was sent to signify Who He was, and what He would be like, Who would be born of the All-pure One. He would be the God-man, the mighty and powerful God. Some of the Fathers understood that this same Gabriel appeared to Joachim and Anna concerning the birth of the Virgin Mary, and that Gabriel instructed Moses in the wilderness to write the Book of Genesis. The Holy Fathers say that Gabriel belongs to the first and greatest order of heavenly powers, that is, the Seraphim, since the Seraphim stand closest to God. He is, therefore, one of the seven Seraphim closest to God. The names of the seven are Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, Salathiel, Jegudiel, and Barachiel. To this number some add Jeremiel. Each one has his own particular service and all are equal in honor. Why did God not send Michael? Because Michael’s service is to suppress the enemies of the Faith of God, while Gabriel’s is the mission of announcing the salvation of mankind.
Hieromartyr [Priestly-Martyr] Irenaeus Of Srem It is thought that Irenaeus was a Slav. He was married and had children prior to becoming a bishop. During the reign of Maximian, he suffered for Christ. During his terrible sufferings, his relatives stood around him crying and begged him to spare himself and them–that is, to deny Christ. But this wonderful hieromartyr loved the wounds he received for Christ more than all the riches of this world. At the same time Seren, a certain gardener in Srem, also suffered at the hands of Prince Probus, and Afrius suffer in Regia. Because Irenaeus did not want to deny his faith, Prince Probus ordered that he be hurled from a bridge into the Sava River, where this shepherd of Christ’s flock died, taking up his habitation among the citizens of heaven. He honorably suffered in the year 304 A.D.
The Venerable Malchus Malchus was a farmer from the vicinity of Antioch, and from his youth his entire soul was directed toward God. The Arabs enslaved him, and while he was in slavery they forced him to take a black woman for a wife. He converted her to the Christian Faith and they lived together as brother and sister. Conspiring together, they escaped from bondage, but the Arabs almost overtook them. They found shelter in a cave in which there was a lioness with her cubs, and they became frightened. But God protected them. The lioness did not harm them but killed an Arab who tried to enter the cave to capture the runaways. When they reached Malchus’s home country, he gave his wife over to a convent and he himslef entered a monastery. He lived many years in asceticism and took up his habitation among the citizens of heaven in the fourth century.
The Venerable Basil The New Basil first lived in the forest without shelter or hearth. When he was captured, he was questioned: “Who are you?” He replied: “One of those living on earth.” Suspecting him of being a spy, they tortured him greatly. In the end, he lived for many years in freedom in Constantinople. He saw into all men’s secrets, foretold the future, and worked great miracles. His novice was the eldress Theodora. After her death she appeared to Basil’s novice Gregory and described to him the twenty toll-houses [Mitarstvo] through which every soul must pass. On March 25, 944 A.D., St. Basil reposed peacefully and took up his habitation with the wondrous heavenly company. After his death he was seen in great glory by a citizen of Constantinople.
Hymn Of Praise The Archangels Golden-headed seven, of angelic rank, Seven archangels, the highest spirits: Michael, the sword against adversaries, is the first; By the sword he renders payment to those who wage war against God. Gabriel is the herald of God’s Incarnation, The all-wondrous recorder of human salvation. Raphael, like a sun, is the servant of the Trinity; He is the physician of vast human afflictions. Uriel is the radiant light of God, The enlightener of human souls. Selathiel, the intercessor, offers up prayers, And brings the prayers of the people before God. Jegudiel, glorifier of God the Almighty, Encourages the willing man to glory. Barachiel, dispenser of the blessing of heaven, Gives men what they need from God.
Reflection When a miracle occurs, do not be confused by it, but rejoice. God has placed His finger there to reward, or punish, or encourage His faithful, or to lead sinners on the path of salvation. People frequently compare this world to a locomotive. When you see a locomotive or another steam engine, you know that there is an engineer within it. That does not surprise you, does it? If the engineer puts his head out of the cab, waves his hand, extends a rod, waves a handkerchief, tosses out a letter, or makes some other sign, you know that this does not interfere with the operation of the locomotive and does not damage one rivet in it. Why, then, do the faithless say that God with His miracles interferes with the movement of earthly machines? Why? Because thet are dim-witted (unreasonable). The faithful rejoice at God’s signs. A child is frightened at a locomotive but rejoices when a man, resembling himself, appears from it. Oh, how dear it is to us when, from this mute universe which hurtles around us, someone resembling us appears and that someone is one who recognizes and loves us! When a miracle occurs, know that He Who resembles us greets us and says: “Do not be afraid, I am behind all of this.” St. Basil the New worked many miracles. Through prayer he healed the sick and discerned the fate of people like an open book. Through His chosen ones, God has always demonstrated His love and power to men in order to firmly establish the faithful in the Faith, and to shame the unfaithful and return them to the Faith.
Contemplation Contemplate the Lord Jesus crucified on the Cross:
- How He used the last breath of life and saved a thief on the Cross;
- How He commended His soul into the hands of the Father: Father, into Thy hands I commend My Spirit (Luke 23:46).
Homily on the imminence of the coming of the Lord “Behold, I come quickly” (Revelation 22:7). Unbelievers and those who are perishing in spirit will say: “Nearly two thousand years ago He promised that He would come, and He has not come yet!” This is how they laugh–those who will lament in eternal torment. But we who are prepared for happiness in His Kingdom know that He will come in power and glory just as He promised. We know that He has already come countless times and showed Himself to His faithful ones. Did He not come to John the Divine, to whom He spoke these words: Behold, I come quickly (Revelation 3:11)? John saw Him in power and glory, and felt His hand on him when he was frightened, and fell before His feet as dead: And He laid his right hand upon me (Revelation 1:17). Did He not come to Saul, when he breathed hatred against the Christians and when on the road to Damascus he fell on the ground, seeing the Lord and hearing His voice saying: Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me (Acts 9:4)? And again, did He not enter into the heart of the Apostle Paul when he recognized that nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me (Galatians 2:20)? Did He not come to the countless martyrs, both male and female, who suffered for His name, to encourage them, to heal them, and to have mercy on them? Did He not come to Anthony the Great, Theodore Stratelates, St. Charalampus, St. Marina, St. Sylvester and many, many more? But what are we saying? Did He not return from the kingdom of death on the third day and appear before the apostles? Did He not come to the aid of the Church many, many times? And did He not resurrect her as from the dead whenever her enemies rejoiced, thinking that they had given His Church over to death forever? Did He not manifest His power in the Church in the time of Nero as well as in the time of Constantine; in the time of Julian, as well as in the time of Justinian; in the time of Arab tyranny, as well as in the time of the Turkish and Mongolian oppression of Christians? O my faithful brethren, do not submit to deception. He came countless times and comes even today. He comes to every soul that is accessible, regardless of impurity. However, we are all waiting for Him to come for the last time in power and glory. We know that His coming is certain. O Lord Most-gracious, before Thou comest, make us worthy to recognize Thy face and to be ashamed of our own faces, darkened by sin. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.