Feast of the Holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael
2 October 2016
Deacon Les Ruhrmund
St Michael is mentioned by name five times in Scripture: three times in the Book of Daniel in the OT and twice in the NT in the Letter from Jude and the Book of Revelation to John.
Following these biblical references Christian tradition believes thatSt.Michael has four responsibilities:
- To fight against Satan.
- To rescue our souls from the power of evil, especially at the hour of death.
- To be the champion of God’s people, the Jews in the Old Law, the Christians in the New Testament
- And finally to bring our souls to judgment
And so it is that in art and sculpture St Michael is usually depicted either killing the dragon representing the defeated figure of Satan or holding a pair of scales in which he weighs the souls of the departed – though this is much less common than St Michael the protector and the leader of the army of God against the forces of evil.
The dichotomy of good and evil has challenged the minds of great thinkers, philosophers, scientists and theologians from the beginning of recorded time and there are many divergent points of view and theories. But on one thing everyone agrees. Evil is real.
In our Christian worldview, evil is any action, thought or attitude that is contrary to the character or will of God. Evil shows itself through deviation from what we believe to be the goodness of God.
St Thomas Aquinas defines evil as the absence of good.
We are engaged continuously in the fight of good against evil;light against the powers of darkness; spiritual warfare.
It’s a difficult and constant struggle. St Paul writes about this in his letter to the Romansin chapters 7& 8.Paraphrasing his words he writes “For even though the desire to do good is in meI do the evil I do not want to do it.….. Who will recue me from this mortal body? ….The answer, thank God, is that Jesus can and does……. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!”
The most potent weapons of war we have against the devil are in easy reach. There’s prayer as a conscious way of rejecting the seduction of temptation to satisfy our anger, frustrations and selfish desires. We have the grace of the Sacraments, and particularly the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist. And we’re armed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we received in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.
I find that reflecting on the seven deadly sins is a good way to check myown battle status.
The first deadly sin is pride which makes us believe that we’re better than other people. Are we not inclined sometimes to judge people of other races or religionsor lifestyles of which we disagree or disapprove?We use derogatory phrases like “you can’t trust the Arabs …or the Chinese ….or the Blacks ….or the Whites ….or homosexuals, or Muslims or Jews, or the French, etc., etc.”
We forget that every human being, of every shape, size and colour, nationality and religion, abled and disabled alike, is a beloved son or daughter of God.We insult God when we berate any one of his beloved.
Envy is another deadly sin. Perhaps there are times when we resent others who have more money, talent, beauty, friends, personalityand so on than we do.May even resent those who are happier or more joyful than we are.
The next is lust which presents enormous challenges throughout our lives. Lust is the abuse of the gift of our sexuality. It’s normal, healthy and essential that we find other people attractive. Without that attraction we’d not be able to enjoy personalrelationships. All relationships are dependent on the gift of our sexuality; that includes parents, siblings, spouses, friends, family and lovers. It’s when we image or treat others, in fantasy or reality, as mere objects to serve our pleasure that we’re playing with fire and courting the deadly sin of lust.
And then there’s anger. I think being a parent teaches us much about the futility of anger. Anger is a normal human response over which we sometimes have little control. But we can control what we do after we’ve become angry. Yearning for revenge or an opportunity to get even or thoughts of hate or a desire to see someone suffer,are all serious sins of anger.
Gluttony is next and most of us have probably fallen victim to this at one time or another. Gluttony is choosing to over-consume; this could be food or drink. Both are good for us in moderation.But over eating or drinking to the point of drunkenness is gluttony. Legitimate eating disorders, such as anorexia or bulimia, aren’t gluttony. They’re medical conditions and require treatment and care.
Greedis the selfish desire for more, more and still more; often prioritising material wealth and possessions ahead of nurturing our relationship with God and our family. I’m reminded of a quote from Warren Buffet, the American multi-billionaire and one of the wealthiest people on earth who when asked how much is enough replied “When I have just a little more than I have now.”
The last deadly sin is sloth which is laziness – particularly when it concerns prayer and spiritual life. Sloth is an aversion to work –physical, mental and spiritual and often breeds indifference which impedesjoy and appreciation in every aspect of our lives.
If we’re not vigilant we easily fall into habits and behaviours that are contrary to God’s commandments of love.
We are engaged in a furious fight for our souls.
Quoting from the First Letter of Peter (1 Peter 5:8) “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
Jesus has won the war but we each need to choose for ourselves to win the daily battle for our souls.
We implore the Holy Archangel Michael “St Michael Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protector against the wickedness and snares of the devil.”