The Sixteenth Day of Great Lent. Synaxis in Honor of the Archangel Gabriel
On the Leavetaking of the Feast of the Annunciation, the Church commemorates the Archangel Gabriel, who announced the great mystery of the Incarnation of Christ to the Virgin Mary. Mindful of the manifold appearances of the holy Archangel Gabriel and of his zealous fulfilling of God’s will and confessing his intercession for Christians before the Lord, the Orthodox Church calls upon its children to pray to the great Archangel with faith and love.
The Synaxis of the Holy Archangel Gabriel is also celebrated on July 13. All the angels are commemorated on November 8.
The day of commemorating in honor the Archangel Gabriel is the day of his Synaxis, because Christians gather together on the other day of Annunciation to glorify the heavenly messenger of the great mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God. St. Gabriel is one of the seven spirits, “who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Holy One” (Tobit 12:15) [Dan.9:21].
The name Gabriel means “might of God”. Gabriel in the service of the salvation of mankind is especially revealed as the herald and minister of the omnipotence of God. So, wasn’t he revealed as the might of God in the wonderful conception of the Forerunner from aged parents? Gabriel announced this conception. Wasn’t he the one to predict the seedless conception of the Very Son of God? – Gabriel had the honor of the annunciation about this. Wasn’t this the same Archangel, according to the opinion of divinely wise men, sent to support the Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane and to announce to the Mother of God Her all-honorable Dormition?
Therefore, the Church calls him “the servant of wonders”. But in the service for wonders, he is also that special servant of the Mysteries of God. The Holy Church sometimes represents him with a paradisiacal branch in his hand which he presented to the Mother of God, but sometimes with a lantern in his right hand, inside of which burns a candle, and with the balance of justice made from jasper in his left.
He represents the balance of justice, since Gabriel is the herald of the destinies of God about the salvation of the human race. He represents it by a candle in a lantern since the destinies of God are hidden until the time of their fulfillment, and, after their fulfillment are comprehended only by those, who steadily gaze in the mirror of justice of the word of God and their conscience. Thus if anyone, who is named Gabriel and is proper in the “faith of God” (Mk. 2:23), then, according to the Savior, nothing is impossible for him.
~Adapted from Mystagogy: The Weblog of John Sanidopoulos (http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2011/03/synaxis-in-honor-of-archangel-gabriel.html)