These reflections are a result of more than 40 years of ministry as a Roman Catholic priest. Most of these years I spent in the Diocese of Charlotte which covers Western North Carolina. Now I am retired, and live in Medellín, Colombia where I continue to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese of Medellín.
I am Raphael, one of the seven angels
who enter and serve before the Glory of the Lord.”
“So now get up from the ground and praise God. Behold, I am about to ascend to him who sent me; write down all these things that have happened to you.”
(Tobit 12:1, 5-15, 20)
The command to “write down all these things that have happened to you” is important for all of us, because sometimes, we forget. But we never want to forget to praise God for all the blessings we have received.
Raphael said to Tobiah before he reached his father:
“I am certain that his eyes will be opened.
Smear the fish gall on them.
This medicine will make the cataracts shrink and peel off from his eyes;
then your father will again be able to see the light of day.”
In church art, the Archangel Raphael is usually pictured holding fish.
When the girl’s parents left the bedroom
and closed the door behind them,
Tobiah arose from bed and said to his wife,
“My love, get up.
Let us pray and beg our Lord to have mercy on us
and to grant us deliverance.”
She got up, and they started to pray
and beg that deliverance might be theirs.
(Tobit 6:10-11; 7:1, 9-17; 8:4-9a)
Probably one of the most humorous scenes in all the Bible—a couple praying beside their marriage bed on their wedding night! Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions were the first martyrs of Uganda.
At that very time,
the prayer of these two suppliants
was heard in the glorious presence of Almighty God.
So Raphael was sent to heal them both.
(Tobit 3:1-11a, 16-17a)
The Archangel Raphael is one of the three archangels mentioned by name in the Bible. “Raphael” means “God heals.”
I called to my wife and said: “Where did this goat come from?
Perhaps it was stolen! Give it back to its owners;
we have no right to eat stolen food!”
She said to me, “It was given to me as a bonus over and above my wages.”
Yet I would not believe her,
and told her to give it back to its owners.
I became very angry with her over this.
So she retorted: “Where are your charitable deeds now?
Where are your virtuous acts?
See! Your true character is finally showing itself!”
Even for saints, domestic life can be a bit stressful, as this reading from the Book of Tobit illustrates. The just man can “lavishly give to the poor,” as today’s psalm points out, but if he wants domestic tranquility, he had better make sure he’s cleared it with his wife first.
Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
The Visitation is an intimate exchange between to important women in the Scriptures reflecting on God’s mysterious, joyful plan of salvation.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
"All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."
Our experience of God as a community of persons, yet one only God, is a mystery that invites us to delight in what we cannot fully comprehend but that we know to be true.