This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. We will hear the story of the dream that came to Jacob the night he laid his head upon a rock. A dream of a ladder reaching up to or down from heaven and angels climbing up and down that ladder. In his dream, Jacob saw God standing beside him promising him to be with him and keep him safe. This Sunday, we'll hear about another dream, another vision--John's vision of a great heavenly battle between the angels of God, led by Michael the Archangel, and a great dragon known as Satan. A battle that ends with the dragon tossed out of the heavens.
I always have trouble with that second story. It seems so far-fetched. Until I remember that story's context. John, who recorded that vision, lived in a time of great violence and uncertainty. Christians of his day faced brutal persecution. The forces of the Roman Empire were aligned against them. John was exiled to an island where, in the midst of his despair, he had a vision of a different world--a world in which the powers of good prevail.
It's hard for me to wrap my mind around that story. It's hard for me to picture Michael and his angels. I have to step back from the well-known images of Michael--images one often finds on icons and imagine what protecting angels might look like, what weapons they might carry, what shields might protect them from deadly wounds. Then I wonder to myself, "When have met Michael or Michela?" Then I remember. I remember protecting angels in my life. Women and men who have stood between me and grave danger. Women and men who have shielded me from harm.
We all have our Michaels and Michelas; we all have people who have shielded us from danger. And likely we have all been Michaels or Michelas to others.
Take time this week to remember and give thanks for the Michaels and Michaelas in your life. Take time this week to watch for the angelos of God in your midst.
See you Sunday--along with all the other angels in our midst.