Michael the Archangel 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)

Michael the Archangel 33rdSunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)

Daniel 12:1-3; Psalm 16; Hebrews 10:11-14, 18; Mark 13:24-32

Today’s first reading is from the book of Daniel. This reading refers to the angel Michael, one of the three angels referred to by name in the Old Testament. The other angels are Gabriel and Raphael. Who are these three angels?

Today’s first reading tells us a little about the first angel, Michael. In the passage we heard read from chapter ten of Daniel, Michael is described as a “guardian” of Israel. Two chapters later state that the angel Michael will come at the end of time, once again to protect his people. The last book of the Bible, Revelation, provides further details by foretelling that the angel Michael will lead good angels to fight against evil angels (Revelation 12).

The second angel, Gabriel, appears to the prophet Daniel to interpret visions Daniel had seen. Gabriel also is the angel who appears to Mary and Zechariah. Gabriel tells Mary that she will give birth to Jesus and tells Zechariah that his wife, Elizabeth although elderly, will bear a child.

The third angel, Raphael, appears to Tobiah in the book of Tobit. Raphael instructs Tobiah how to cure his father’s blindness. Raphael reveals his identity to Tobiah and his father Tobit with, “I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Lord (Tobit 12:15 RSV.)” We know three of these seven angels. Who are the other four?

The New Testament in the book of Revelation also refers to these other four with “seven angels who stand before God (Revelation 8:2 RSV).” However, nowhere in either the Old Testament or New Testament does the Bible provide the names for four of these angels. It only provides the names for the angels we just referred to: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. There are, though, traditions that provide names for these angels, but what is more important than their names is who they are and what they do.

According to St Paul, these angels love God, love us, and fight against evil angels even right now. In his letter to the Ephesians Paul writes, “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12 RSV).”[1]

With these words, Paul is teaching what already was taught in the Old Testament that the unseen angelic world, the unseen world of created intelligences in intertwined with our visible world. For example, points out Brant Pitre, the prophet Ezekiel asserts that the actual power behind a very wicked ruler, the King of Tyre was “in Eden the garden of God … [who was] blameless … till iniquity was found in you…[who] was filled with violence, and…sinned”. (Ezekiel 28:13-16 RSV) Here, Ezekiel is identifying the actual power behind this ruler with the angelic tempter from the beginning of time.[2]

In accordance with Church wisdom, we should take great caution in claiming that anyone we know is influenced by evil spiritual powers, but at the same time, we ought to be aware that it is possible, and does occur, and all are vulnerable to these intellectual powers that interface with our world in good ways and in evil ways.

Part of Ignatius of Loyola’s exercises is to teach us to discern when we are influenced by good spirits and when we are influenced by evil spirits. As someone trained in Loyola’s spirituality as a Jesuit, the Holy Father has encouraged us to reflect and discern the movements within our hearts and minds.

In line with this encouragement, our bishop, Archbishop Leonard Blaire, has requested that all parishes in his diocese pray a St Michael the Archangel prayer. May we continue to do so reverently so that we are more influenced by the fruits of the spirit that good angels encourage, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23 RSV)”.

God Bless,

Henry Ossawa Tanner, “The Annunciation,” https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ac/Henry_Ossawa_Tanner_-

Fr Peter

[1]Brant Pitre, Genesis and the Books of Moses: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Pentateuch,MP3, 7.

[2]Brant Pitre, Genesis and the Books of Moses: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Pentateuch,MP3, 7.

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