St. Raphael (“God Heals”) Pray For Us! The month of September at its 29th day calls us in meditation especially upon three principal angels, Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Altogether the Bible says that there are seven angels who stand before the throne of God (Rev 8:2), it only lists the names of three of them throughout the Bible.
St. Michael means “like unto God”. He led the good angels of God against the fallen disobedient angels. The angels were all given that one chance to say either yes or no to God (Daniel 12: 1). We have many chances to amend our lives with the sacrament of confession, but the angels were given only one chance in the beginning.
St. Gabriel means “one who announces”, and he appeared to Mary with the message from God that she was to be the Mother of God and bear in her immaculate womb the Son of God, Jesus (Luke 1: 25-38).
The third archangel mentioned in the Bible by name is St. Raphael, meaning “God heals”. It is always the power of God that works in the angels as well as in all the saints. All people, whether single or married are privileged to have St. Raphael as patron of travelers, and that wonderful saint also heals and brings those in love together. St. Raphael is seen as healer, guide, and link to those who devoutly want to be partners to each other in marital blessedness.
Role of Raphael and Righteousness of Tobit
The Book of Tobit portrays St. Raphael in this true fashion. And the purpose of all of God’s Word, no matter what book of the Bible is to show that faithfulness and following the commands of God is what Scripture and the Catholic Church teach man. Assuredly, Tobit is seen as a righteous and just man, obeying God in all areas of his life. Tobit tells his son, Tobias—“Remember the Lord our God all your days, my son, and refuse to sin or transgress his commandments. Live uprightly all the days of your life…” (Tobit 4: 5-21) He instructs his son to do good, for his deeds will prosper. He tells him to care for the poor and share one’s goods with them. Almsgiving is one of his highest priorities, for charity will never be disregarded by the Lord. Tobit’s life is a shining example of works of mercy, truth, trust, and righteousness.
Marrying a Faithful Partner
Tobit further warns his son to refrain from all immorality and not to marry a pagan woman, but instead seek one who stands steadfastly with the Lord.
The Israelites, from their inception as the chosen people of God, were told not to intermarry with the pagans who worshipped Baal, for they too would fall away from adoring the true God. Tobit was well aware of the connection between sexual immorality, vice, and worship of false gods. Each sin led to another one and the person away from the purity of Yahweh. He urges Tobias to take a wife from the tribe of his ancestors. All that the father says to his son, he has practiced all of his life. Old Testament Tobit has led a past of New Testament holiness, in accord with the beatitudes that Jesus preaches, by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, and burying the dead. Tobit abides by the Old Testament precepts. His total person, in mind and heart, is to love his brethren Israelites, even in the land of exile he finds himself in. Like Job, throughout all difficulties, he continues to praise God in all his ways and remain faithful, even in exile and after he loses his eyesight due to the dung of birds falling into them.
St. Raphael Seen as God’s Healer and Traveler
Within this book, we find St. Raphael, veiled as a kinsman of the Jewish people who is guide to the young Tobias in a mission to bring back to his father Tobit, the money that he has entrusted to one of his own tribesmen. Yet, the journey is one of wonderment and amazement, for before all of us is the concern of the holy Archangel Raphael for the healing of not only Tobias’s father but the deliverance of the woman from the devil and the eventual bringing together of two people in a holy union. Both the prayers his future wife Sarah, along with his own, are heard before the Most High God. St. Raphael is on his way from God to help them. The fish that St. Raphael tells Tobias to grab in the water is instrumental in healing the father’s blind eyes and driving out a demon that has been plaguing his future wife, resulting in seven dead husbands. The gall, heart, and liver are used by Tobias on the instructions of St. Raphael to be the healing agents. Yet, it is God in the end who does the healing through the intercession of St. Raphael. St. Raphael later reveals himself as the angel in disguise who has been helping the family.
Meaning of Marriage
This story is among the wisdom literature of the Bible. Marriage is seen as a beautiful gift from God. Tobias wants to begin the relationship to his beloved, whom God has given to him by an honest and truthful prayer before the marriage bed. By obeying St. Raphael, and taking the live ashes of incense with the heart and liver of the fish, the devil is expelled once and for all from the presence of Sarah. Tobias is now free to be with his intended bride. Before anything else takes place, he tells her to get up from bed so they may pray together, and the Lord will show his mercy upon them. The author of this book relates the prayer of praise and thanksgiving of Tobias, with his beloved using the very heart of the Book of Genesis when God told Adam that he was going to give him a helpmate--Blessed art thou, O God of our father, and blessed be thy holy and glorious Name for ever. Let the heavens and all thy creatures bless thee. Thou made Adam and gave him Eve his wife as a helper and support. From them the race of mankind has sprung. Thou did say, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; let us make a helper for him like himself.’ (Tobit 8: 5-6) And above all, Tobias prayerfully from his heart utters his sincere and true intentions toward this woman he is about to be with the rest of his life.
The Word of God here is telling us that this is a model of true love and marriage, and how honor toward one’s mate should be shown. Tobias says “And now, O Lord, I am not taking this sister of mine because of lust, but with sincerity. Grant that I may find mercy and may grow old together with her.” Sarah with jubilation says—“Amen”. (Tobit 8: 7-8) Marriage is seen as a holy union between two people who love each other, want to be faithful to God, and spread that love to family and others. The message of St. Raphael, when he reveals himself as the angel of the Lord, is that each of us should praise God and give thanks to Him for everything. He pleads in earnest that Tobit and his family should continue to do good, so that evil will not overtake them. So important is prayer with fasting, almsgiving, and righteousness. He stresses how powerful almsgiving and fasting are with righteousness. By “righteousness”, St. Raphael is saying that the unjust who commit sin are “the enemies of their own lives.” (Tobit 11: 10)
St. Raphael is the patron saint of medical workers, doctors, matchmakers, and travelers. Clearly, within the Book of Tobit, one can see that God wants us all to be healed and to be happy, in this world and forever. Blessedness can be achieved by the example of Tobit and his family, with answered prayers carried out by St. Raphael, by the will of God. God does answer prayers as he commands the angel (as many scholars believe it to be St. Raphael) to stir the water for the sick to be healed in the Gospel of St. John. (John 5: 1-15) As St. Raphael was intercessor for Tobit, Tobias, and Sarah, so too he is intercessor for us today.
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