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July 13, 2022

On the Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel in July (St. Justin Popovich)

Synaxis of the Archangel Gabriel (Feast Day - July 13)

 By St. Justin Popovich

We praise with songs the harbinger of our salvation, the great servant of God, and the joyful messenger to the Most Pure Virgin Mary, the Archangel Gabriel, organizing a festive synaxis for him for the second time. His first synaxis is celebrated the day after the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the twenty-sixth of March; and now that synaxis of his is being celebrated again in the holy Church, and his miraculous appearances are again being mentioned and celebrated by God's order.

He taught Moses, who escaped from Pharaoh, in the desert to write books, telling him the origin of the world, the creation of the first man Adam, his life and that of the patriarchs after him, the latter times, the flood and the division of the people; he explained to him the position of the heavenly planets and the elements; taught him arithmetic, geometry, and all wisdom.

He interpreted to the prophet Daniel the miraculous visions of kings and kingdoms, which were to arise later, and which were presented to him in the form of various beasts; he informed him about the time of the liberation of God's people from Babylonian slavery, and about the time of Christ's first coming into the world through the incarnation of the Immaculate Virgin.

He appeared to the holy righteous Anna, who was in her garden grieving because of her childlessness and was praying to God with tears, and said to her: "Anna! Indeed, your prayer was answered, your sighs passed the clouds, and your tears came out before God; and behold, you will conceive and give birth to a most blessed Daughter, because of whom all the tribes of the earth will be blessed, and through her salvation will be given to the world, and she will be named Mary.

In the same way, Holy Gabriel appeared to the righteous Joachim, who was fasting in the desert, and announced to him the same thing as to Saint Anna: that he would receive a Daughter, chosen centuries in advance to be the Mother of the Messiah, who would come for the salvation of the human race.

This great Archangel was assigned by God as a guardian to the Virgin Mary, born of a barren woman, and when she was brought into the temple he fed her, bringing her food every day.

He appeared to the holy priest Zechariah, standing on the right side of the altar of incense, and gave him the good news that his wife Elizabeth would give birth to Saint John, the Forerunner of the Lord, and when Zechariah did not believe it, he reluctantly bound his tongue until his words came true.

This champion of God, sent by God to Nazareth, appeared to the Virgin, betrothed to the righteous Joseph, and gave her the good news that she would conceive the Son of God through the overshadowing and the action of the Holy Spirit in her.

He also appeared to Joseph in a dream, convincing him of the virginity of the Holy Virgin Mary and that what was conceived in her was from the Holy Spirit.

And when our Lord was born in Bethlehem, this angel of the Lord, Gabriel, appeared to the shepherds who were keeping the night watch over their flock, and said: "I bring you great joy: today a Savior is born to you!" - and immediately with the multitude of the heavenly army they sang: "Glory to God in the Highest, and on the earth peace among those whom He is pleased."

It is believed that this angel appeared from heaven to Christ the Savior before His voluntary suffering when He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, since the name Gabriel means: virtue of God. Having appeared to Him, therefore, Gabriel strengthened Him, since in addition to his other services, he also has that - to strengthen those who are in endeavours, and our Lord was then endeavouring, in fervent prayer.

This angel appeared to the myrrhbearers sitting on the stone of the tomb and announcing to them Christ's resurrection from the grave: for he, who was the harbinger of the Lord's conception and birth, showed himself to be the harbinger of His resurrection.

He also appeared to the Most Pure Virgin Mother of God when she was praying warmly on the Mount of Olives, informed her that her honorable repose and transfer from earth to heaven was near, and gave Her a bright branch of paradise.

Remembering these many appearances of his in the Old and New Testaments and knowing his constant intercession before God for the Christian race, the holy Church now prepares a synaxis celebration for him, so that the people of God would always and ardently resort to the protection and help of so many advocates and benefactors of the human race, and through his prayers received the forgiveness of sins from Christ, the Lord of our Salvation.

From Lives of the Saints for July. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.