29 September 2014Revelation 12:7-12
“Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated,” (vv. 7-8)
Today is the feast day of St Michael and all Angels. On one of my shelves there is a statue of St Michael slaying a very human-shaped devil. It was a gift to me from a local Catholic Church when I left my full time appointment and the sight of it reminds me of many ecumenical times shared within their building.
So who is St Michael? He is, according to Scripture, one of three named angels: the other two being Gabriel, who was sent to tell Mary that she was to become a mother (Luke 1:26-38), and Raphael. Michael is described as the protector of Israel and the leader of the armies of God, and it is in this latter role that we acknowledge him in the passage we have before us today. His challenge is to be the warrior who takes on evil (personified as the devil), and according to the vision in Revelation the evil one is thrown out of heaven and peace reigns. Some people, of course, accept the story as an explanation of what will happen when the destiny of the world is decided. Michael is the heavenly patron of Israel and, by extension, the patron of Christian people as the new people of God. John's vision is that when the conflict between the Church and the pagan world comes to a climax, then the battle would be fought not on earth but in heaven, and Michael would be the champion in this battle.
However, it must be clear to us all that the battle described here did not bring an end to conflict, and we cannot hide from the conflict in what we term the Holy Land going on today. Therefore we must, in my opinion, bring the battle closer to home, not in the sense of physical warfare but by doing all that we can, as disciples of Jesus, to defeat evil when we see it around us in our own environment, whether it is through making our voices heard when we see injustices around us, or being practical warriors against the darkness we see around us. We are to be the Michaels in our own place and time, casting out the demons on behalf of Christ.
- What would be the particular demons you would defeat if you had the courage to do so?
- How do you think the people termed the Body of Christ should react to the evil in the world?
- Should we just gather together with people who feel and think like us and shut ourselves off from the world and leave the solution to God? Why? Or why not?