Wednesday September 29, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Feast of the Archangels
Reading (Revelation 12:7-12ab) Gospel (St. John 1:47-51)
Today we celebrate the feast of the angels, in a particular way the angels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, but with them all of the angels in heaven; but these three in a particular way because they are the only angels whose names are given to us in Scripture and therefore we can celebrate them by name. However, it is the celebration of all the angels.
As we heard in the first reading, there was a war that broke out in heaven, and Michael is the one who led the good angels, the ones who would be faithful to God, against those who refused to serve. Satan, the ancient dragon, the serpent, the one who tempted our first parents and continues through his minions to tempt all of us, was thrown out of heaven. The unfortunate part for us is that he was thrown down to earth, not exactly a happy place for us to have him roaming around. Yet his very name, Satan, means “the accuser”. He is the one who God created, not only as the highest angel of all and therefore the most intelligent, but also the one who was going to stand before the throne of God to bring the accusations against the people of God, to be able to bring forth all the sins. Because that was the purpose of his creation, he continues to do the same except now in a completely malicious way. His whole being is turned toward us, and it is turned in a particular way against God; and because we are the chosen children of God, he is turned against each one of us with all of his malice.
Yet what we have to realize is that there is nothing at all to fear because we also have all the good angels and we can call upon the angels for help, something that so often we forget. We think of the angels being up in heaven standing around the throne of God and worshiping, and indeed they are. However, the angels were created for us. The word angel, recall, means “a messenger”. They are created to be the messengers between God and us. Therefore, their being as well (that is, the being of the good angels) is directed toward us. The problem is that they will never force themselves on us – we have to ask. So you can pray and ask the Lord to send angels to help you, to protect you, to watch over you, to guard you, to guide you. You have your own guardian angel and we will celebrate his feast in a couple of days, but in the meantime we also have at our disposal legions of angels, countless numbers of angels.
When you think of all the vile creatures that fell, that was only one-third. So when we look at all the temptation and all the evil and all the problems that those unfortunate creatures are creating in the world, keep in mind that is only one-third of the angels. As malicious as they are, their malice is as nothing by comparison to the good, to the charity, of the good angels. That is what we have at our disposal, so we need to keep in mind the necessity of calling upon the angels. We certainly have prayers like the prayer to Saint Michael, but any prayer to an angel is going to be efficacious to ask for the angels to protect you, to surround you, to guide you, to guard you, and so on. That is exactly what each one of us can do.
As we celebrate these three angels in particular, we know they are among the seven angels that stand around the throne of God and minister to Him. At the same time, we see the greatest glory that the angels can have because they sit also at the feet of Our Blessed Lady. That is precisely how they passed the test. They saw this beautiful woman, a human woman, who would be their Queen. Satan refused to accept, not only to accept that God would become man and be born of this woman, but that this woman who is a human creature was going to be higher than they, not by nature but by charity, that her love was more perfect than theirs and therefore she would have a higher place in heaven even than Lucifer himself who was “the bearer of light”. But Jesus is the Light Who came into the world and He was born of Our Lady, so she took the place from which Satan fell; and therefore he refused to accept her. Now the angels who passed the test, they saw this mystery revealed before them and they praised God for His goodness that God would lower Himself to become one of us and that He would exalt one of us to be higher than all the angels. So as they stand around the throne of God worshiping Him, at the same time they sit at the foot of Our Lady and they simply wait for her command. They will do the bidding of their heavenly Queen at any moment. So you can ask Our Blessed Lady because this gives the angels the greatest glory and it gives God the greatest glory that we would turn to Our Lady and ask her intercession to send the holy angels, the ones who accepted the mystery of the Immaculate Conception and of the Incarnation and continue to accept the mystery that Our Lady has been exalted above all of them and they are glorified in that.
That is what we can meditate upon in a special way today. If this is what gives God and His angels the greatest glory, it should us as well. And we have at our disposal all of the help we need, all of the heavenly power right there at our disposal just waiting for us to ask to have legions of angels dispatched to crush the head of the ancient serpent and to be able to protect us from the malice and the onslaught of the fallen spirits.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.