Category Archives: saints

Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels

“Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels”
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

This tercet was written with the Hebrew pronunciations of the archangels’ names. Each name ends with the Hebrew el, which means “God.”

Mi-ka-el means “Who is like God?”
Ga-bri-el means “The Strength of God” or “The Power of God.”
Ra-fa-el means “God heals” or “God’s Remedy.”

From a homily on the Gospels by Saint Gregory the Great, pope 

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.

Some angels are given proper names to denote the service they are empowered to perform. In that holy city, where perfect knowledge flows from the vision of almighty God, those who have no names may easily be known. But personal names are assigned to some, not because they could not be known without them, but rather to denote their ministry when they came among us. Thus, Michael means “Who is like God”; Gabriel is “The Strength of God”; and Raphael is “God’s Remedy.”

Whenever some act of wondrous power must be performed, Michael is sent, so that his action and his name may make it clear that no one can do what God does by his superior power. So also our ancient foe desired in his pride to be like God, saying: “I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven; I will be like the Most High.” He will be allowed to remain in power until the end of the world when he will be destroyed in the final punishment. Then, he will fight with the archangel Michael, as we are told by John: “A battle was fought with Michael the archangel.”

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. Raphael means, as I have said, God’s remedy, for when he touched Tobit’s eyes in order to cure him, he banished the darkness of his blindness. Thus, since he is to heal, he is rightly called God’s remedy.

Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

“Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist”
A reflection on Matthew 9:9-13, 12:6-8; Hosea 6:6
Related post: The Call of Matthew
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

Matthew 9:9-13 (NABRE)

I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.”

Matthew 12:6-8 (NABRE)

For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, 
And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

Hosea 6:6 (NKJV)

Laws of ritual purity dominated the culture of the Jews, from the temple precincts to the home and marketplace. Sacrifice and burnt offerings seemed to be the heart of true religion, along with avoidance of impure persons and objects. 

Jesus transcended the division between pure and impure, clean and unclean to embrace “tax collectors and sinners,” Jews and Gentiles. Jesus demonstrated that the true sacrifice and oblation of the heart are divine mercy and love for all without discrimination. 

The true temple of God is not a place, but a Person—Jesus Christ—who came to transform all persons into temples of the Holy Spirit.

Our Lady of Sorrows and the Mystery of Christ

“Our Lady of Sorrows”
A reflection on Luke 2:33-35
Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
Related post: Our Lady of Sorrows
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Luke 2:33-35

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Simeon foretold that the Christ Child would be a sign which shall be “spoken against” (antilegomenon). Looking into the face of her tiny son, Mary must have wondered, “Who are you?” The question of Jesus’ identity was put to his disciples, the scribes and Pharisees, the people he healed and taught, the high priests, Herod, Pontius Pilate, and the various foreigners whom he encountered. “Who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15, Mark 8:29, Luke 9:20). The first person who pondered this mystery was Mary, his mother.

“Ima” (pronounced “ee-ma”) is “Mom” in Hebrew/Aramaic. 

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

“The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary”
A reflection on Song of Songs 6:10
Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Midmorning Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours
Related post: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

Who is this that comes forth like the dawn,
as beautiful as the moon, as resplendent as the sun,
as awe-inspiring as bannered troops?

Liturgy of the Hours, Midmorning Prayer, Song of Songs 6:10

Who is this that comes forth like the dawn, beautiful as the white moon, pure as the blazing sun, fearsome as celestial visions?

New American Bible (Revised Edition)

Who is this that looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?

Revised Standard Version

Who is this who looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, awesome as the bannered legions?

The Complete Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), ed. by Rabbi A.J. Rosenberg

The poetic tribute of the Song of Songs to the “woman” radiant as the sun, moon, and starry legions paints an image of feminine strength radiating from the hand of the divine artist.

The obscure subject in the Hebrew phrase ă-yum-māh kan-niḏ-gā-lō-wṯ (אֲיֻמָּ֖ה כַּנִּדְגָּלֽוֹת) is variously translated as “troops,” “army,” “hosts,” or “legions” from its military overtones. The key word is dagal, a primitive verb meaning “to flaunt, raise a flag, or set up with banners” (Strong’s Concordance). It is cognate with the noun degel which means “flag, banner, or standard.”

The phrase also appears in Song of Songs 6:4. The New American Bible (Revised Edition) offers this footnote concerning the phrase it translates as “celestial visions,” which hides the reference to military banners:

Celestial visions: the meaning is uncertain. Military images may be implied here, i.e., the “heavenly hosts” who fight along with God on Israel’s behalf (cf. Judges 5:20), or perhaps a reference to the awesome goddesses of the region who combined aspects of both fertility and war.

In the context of the Church’s celebration of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we honor the Mother of God whose blazing virginal strength inspires the confidence of children protected by legions of celestial hosts.

Saint Bartholomew, Apostle

“The Call of Nathanael”
John 1:45-51 in a tercet 
Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle
Related post: Fig Trees, Dreams and Ladders
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

John 1:45-51

Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr

“Unless a grain of wheat”
John 12:24-26 in a couplet 
Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr
Related posts: Whoever Finds His Life Will Lose It, A Toast to the Roast!
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.

John 12:24-26

Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus

“Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus”
John 11:19-27 in a couplet
Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary, and Lazarus
Related posts: Lent, Day 25 (John 11:25), I AM the Resurrection
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

John 11:19-27

Saint Thomas the Apostle

“My Lord and my God!”
John 20:24-29 in a couplet
Feast of Saint Thomas the Apostle
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

John 20:24-29

Saints Peter and Paul

“A fisherman and a Pharisee”
Couplet in honor of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
Related posts: Easter, Day 48, Taste and See
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

After this, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.

John 21:1-11

Related posts: Easter, Day 48, Taste and See