In the old calendar, today was known as the feast of the Archangel Gabriel and, as we approach the great Solemnity of the Annunciation, it is fitting to remember this messenger of God, whose name means ‘Power of God’. He appears in the Old Testament, coming to the prophet Daniel, and he comes also to Zechariah to announce the coming of John the Baptist. He identifies himself thus: ‘I am Gabriel, who stand in the presence of God; and I was sent to speak to you, and to bring you this good news’. Here is Daniel’s experience: ‘While I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He came and he said to me, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you wisdom and understanding. At the beginning of your supplications a word went forth, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the word and understand the vision’. Then the Annunciation: ‘In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary’.

Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and is sent, is near each one of us, to tell us that we are greatly beloved, even if we do not think ourselves worthy. May he be close to you this day, bringing God’s blessing upon you.