Sunday of Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel (Byzantine Rite) 12 July 2020

Kontakion — Tone 2

You look upon God’s glory in heaven, and bring grace from on high to earth,  wise Gabriel, leader of angels, minister of God’s glory, and divine defender of the world! Save and preserve those who cry to you: “Be our defense, so that no one can be against us!”

Reading from the Book of Daniel 

Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.

And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.

At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to shew thee; for thou art greatly beloved: therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision.

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.

~Chapter: 9 Verse: 21-27

Reading from the Book of Romans

Brethren my Heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.

For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.

For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.

For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.”

But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

~Chapter: 10 Verses: 1-10

Reading from the Gospel of Matthew

When He had come to the other side, to the country of the Gergesenes, there met Him two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs, exceedingly fierce, so that no one could pass that way.

And suddenly they cried out, saying, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”

Now a good way off from them there was a herd of many swine feeding.

So the demons begged Him, saying, “If You cast us out, permit us to go away into the herd of swine.”

And He said to them, “Go.” So when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine. And suddenly the whole herd of swine ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and perished in the water.

Then those who kept them fled; and they went away into the city and told everything, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men.

And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.

So He got into a boat, crossed over, and came to His own city.

~Chapter: 8 Verse: 28 to Chapter 9 Verse: 1 


   Today we celebrate the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel. It is the second time the Archangel is honored in the liturgical cycle, the first following the Annunciation of Jesus to Mary, and he is featured similarly as he announces the coming of John the Forerunner to his parents who had long awaited in faithful service for a child. The foundation of our faith, and the hands that first administered it’s sacraments, were all growing in the wombs of women that had visitation with the Archangel Gabriel. The Angel we celebrate today is the bringer of glad tidings as well, but in a much different manner.

 In 9th century Constantinople a great victory was being celebrated just as the church dedicated to the Archangel Gabriel was being finished. It was a beautiful accomplishment after years of struggle and war and many said was rivaled in beauty only by the Hagia Sophia  church herself. On this day as the church was dedicated the people we reminded of all of the messages of hope and victory that the Archangel Gabriel has brought to the faithful, especially in times of great strife.

The passages from Daniel explain in a way that had to feel very real to those gathered after battle in the old testament, and again to those gathered in the 9th century, and now to us today,  the power of coming covenants and new temples that would rise out of what had fallen. The gospel then shows us exactly how that became manifest, Christ was the living, breathing, and speaking force to drive out what was, for what is to come.

First in Romans we learn speaking faith and service to Christ out loud creates our personal covenant with Christ, that speaking it or announcing is the way to redemption, and the steps between confession and salvation.

 In Matthew we are witnessing Christ being all that Gabriel said he would be, and in this simple casting the demons out and into swine, he becomes a voice that does just that and then Jesus crosses into Jerusalem, he begins what will become, and all of what is promised there.

 In the aftermath hopeless battles, the rising and falling of great temples, struggles of home and hearth, and in the worries of a small young woman carrying the weight of the world, it is in Gabriel’s announcements that we can find the words needed to face the seemingly impossible tasks before the people in our readings today. His words give us strength to do what we must with our own words, and those of God, until the healing and salvation of Christ can fulfill within ourselves and the world all that is, and is to come.


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