The feast of St. Michael and All Angels is an ancient festival of the Christian Church. We get the records of the Archangel Michael and Angels in the Bible. Who are these angels? Do angels exist today? These are some of the questions we may ask as we think of angels.
According to Christian teaching, we are human beings and all the other things around us are creations of God. God is the creator and the source of everything. Then what is the place of these angels? The word angel comes from the Greek word called αγγελος.The meaning of this word is messenger. Therefore angels are messengers of God.
When we look into the salvation history of God we can see that God has been using various ways to speak to God’s people. At times God speaks to God’s people through dreams. God uses other people and other matters to speak to God’s people. Also, God Godself speaks to people.
In this particular context angels are special messengers of God. For instance, to inform the birth of Christ God sent angel Gabriel to Mary. In certain cases, especially in the Old Testament, it is not very clear whether the messengers were heavenly beings or earthly human beings like us. However, one thing is clear they were messengers of God.
In this particular background, it is necessary to ask who is St. Michael. The most vivid story of Michael is in the Apocalypse or the book of Revelation (Rev 12:7) “There was war in heaven; Michael and his angel fought against the dragon.” As this is in Apocalypse or the symbolic language we cannot and should not take this literally.
What does this mean? Here we are given the message that Michael and his angels are there to fight for God. Fight for peace. Michael and his angels are entrusted with the duty to banish evil and establish justice.
It is interesting to note the meaning of the word Michael. Michael means he who is like God. In a way, Michael has the power of God. Although he is not God he is like God. That is what the name suggests. In Christendom, Michael was looked upon as a life-giving messenger of God. Therefore in many countries, Christians contextualized St. Michael in many ways.
As you know for Egyptians the river Nile is the source of Life. They created great civilizations with pyramids on the banks of the river Nile. Therefore Egyptian Christians long ago dedicated this River Nile as the river of Michael.
When pagan Germans were converted to Christianity, all the mountains that were dedicated to Wotan according to their pagan belief were rededicated to St. Michael.
This shows how throughout history this Archangel has been facilitating Christians to contextualize their faith in their local setups.
Therefore as we celebrate the feast of St. Michael and all Angels let us remember that we have the responsibility to work with these angels of God. Although these angles do not have physical bodies like our bodies they are very much present among us.
Let’s ask God to give us God’s grace to recognize the work of these angels and to get involved in the life-giving services of these messengers of God.