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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Saint Raphael the Archangel, October 24

A Homily of St. John Chrysostom

Archangel St. Raphael
What are we to learn from the healing power of this pool? What mystery doth it signify? For these things are not written without purpose. In figure and type they do shew things are not written without purpose. In figure and type they do shew us something of things to come, so that what was exceeding strange might not, by coming unexpectedly, shock the faith of the hearers. What then is it that they foreshew? A Baptism was shortly to be instituted ; a Baptism of such abundant power and grace as would cleanse all sins, and make the dead to live. These things are therefore set forth under the type of the pool and in many other figures. First of all, there was the use of water for washing away the stains of the body, and for cleansing from certain ceremonial defilements, such as the uncleanness engendered by touching dead bodies, or lepers and the like. Under the old Law, many things were cleansed by water for similar reasons.
But let us now return to the subject. As we have said, water is chiefly used to cleanse bodily defilement. It is also used to do away with infirmities of different kinds. God would have his people familiar with the benefits of water that the grace of the waters of Baptism might not seem strange to them. To that end he gave water as a means of cleansing, not only from defilements, but also from disease. Now it would seem that as the time of fulfillment drew nigh, the figures given for Baptism, and the passion, and such approaching realities, were clearer than those which had been given in times further back. Just as the king’s body-guard is more carefully uniformed to shew what is than are the king’s men at a distance, so was it done with types. On this wise we are told how the Angel came down and troubled the water, and endued it with a healing power, that is, that the Jews might learn how the Lord of Angels had even more power with which to heal the diseases of the soul. But here it was not simply the nature of the water that wrought the cure, otherwise it would always have done this. Rather it was done by the handwork of the Angel. So likewise it is not merely the water used in Baptism that works in us, but rather the gift of the Spirit, which same it hath received to the end that we may be set free from all sin.
Around this pool lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. And a certain man who desired to be healed was there, whose very infirmity prevented him from entering the waters. But now everyone that so desireth is able to come unto the water of life. For it is not an Angel that giveth virtue to this water, but the very Lord of Angels, even he that is able to do all things. We cannot now say : While I am coming another steppeth down before me. If the whole world were to come, grace would in no wise be lacking for each and all. Nor doth its power to cure ever grow less, but is always the same. Just as the sun’s rays give light every day, and are not diminished, nor their brightness made less by their lavish supply, so (and much more so) is the working of the Spirit not diminished by the number of them that receive it. The wonders that were worked at this pool were done to teach mankind how that by water bodily diseases could be healed, so that being long-exercised in this belief, thay might the more easily have faith in the waters of Baptism for the healing of sick souls.
Antiphon on the Benedictus:
I am Raphael, one of the seven holy Angels which present the prayers of the saints, * and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One.
Antiphon on the Magnificat:
Glorious Prince and Archangel Raphael, remember us; * here and everywhere entreat the Son of God for us.

Archangel St. Raphael
O God, who gavest blessed Raphael the Archangel unto thy servant Tobias to be the companion of his wayfaring : grant unto us thy servants, that we may ever be protected by the guardianship of this same thine Archangel, and defended by his help, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth ever one God, world without end. Amen.

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