Μεγαλύνει ἡ ψυχή μου τὸν Κύριον [Luke 1. 46b]

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Saint Michael's and All Angels' Day: HOMILY

Matthew 18. 1-11; Isaiah 6. 1-7; Revelation 12. 7-12
Saint Michael’s and All Angels’ Day: 29 September Anno Domini 2013
Fr. J. Bill Watson SSP

In The Name + of THE Angel of The Lord: JESUS

   “Bless the Lord ye His angels, that excel in strength.”

   To talk about angels is simply to talk about Jesus. To examine and focus just a bit on angels is only to examine and focus on Christ, for, that is ALL and ONLY what the angels do…from Saints Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel, all the way to your own individual guardian angel. Angels worship, praise, sing to and with, serve as messengers and ambassadors for, Jesus! 

   The Hebrew word malek means messenger and the Greek New Testament term employed, angelos, also means messenger. Angels are spirit beings created by the Holy Trinity to bear His message. God is love and thus the angels speak, preach, teach, confess, and oh yes, SING, His love; but not generic love, rather sacrificial, paschal, bloody love! This message of course is true, but it’s even more than true; for many bad and sad things are true—hell is true, that is, it’s genuine and real (as is Satan). The message of these angels is also GOOD. The Greek word eu, (eu) means good and when appended to the word for message it becomes euangel or evangel. This word in early English becomes Godspell or Gospel: GOOD NEWS.

   The angels did much Good News preaching in the Hebrew texts; most especially to Esaias and Ezekiel. But the true joyous mission of the angels is seen most beautifully in Luke’s Nativity narrative when they sing to the shepherds gathered on the Judean hillside: “Glory to God in the highest (or, Glory be to God on high; now where have we heard that this joyous morning?) and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

   The angels praise God. They give laud and honor and worship to the Lord of Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts (i.e. of angels) and to the Lord of all the Universe! The angels do truly love humans, all of you, and love the fact that the Lord loves you above all created things!

   The angels are also guardians and protectors. How comforting for a Christian to know that these mighty spiritual forces, these “flames of heavenly fire,” encircle each one of you with an impenetrable shield of Christ’s Grace and security. Even as they surrounded Elisha and freed Saint Peter from prison, they also watch over you with Gods command for salvation.

   Each angel points to Christ who is THE Angel of the Lord, the Malek Adonai, and THE Apostle of the Holy Trinity. Jesus is the ultimate euangelos, THE Evangel in the Flesh, for in Jesus dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily! Jesus’ Gospel, His Good Message/News is in His very Words of forgiveness, peace, and restoration; in His very Body given and Blood shed to pay for your sins and to satisfy the Law’s demands on your behalf and in your place.

   Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Well God is the greatest and the only true and good, good. Jesus is the greatest, but, His greatness is manifested, made known and given to you, not in His greatness (power and might) but in His meekness and servanthood; in His work, suffering, dying, and tender feeding.  The greatest in the kingdom of heaven is He that came to save that which was lost. Jesus came to obey and to walk the way of Calvary and the crucifix’s shame to save you. Jesus is the greatest in that He became the least.

   Thus the Lord draws into the midst of the “12” another small and insignificant (according to the eyes of the world) one, “a little child” and says to Peter, James, John and the others “unless ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven,” and “whoso shall receive one such little child in My Name receiveth Me.” The Christ is talking about His new corps, His new batch of angels: the 12 Apostles and their successors. Elsewhere Jesus says even more clearly of the “12” Galilean angels “Whose soever sins ye remit they are remitted,” and “go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of The Father and of The Son and of The Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  One of these “little ones” Saint Peter, demonstrated his own servanthood and lamb-like meekness by insisting that his own crucifixion be upside down as he was not worthy to die the same way as His Lord, and in his own Evangel (as recorded by Angel Saint Mark) also records Jesus saying: “Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel (the evangel) to every creature.”

   In these many, many years after King Uzziah’s death, in these last New Testament end times, you SEE the Lord sitting upon a throne of Holy Word, and Holy Font, and most Holy Altar (His Throne on Earth). And His train fills this temple even as His words echo in proclamation, absolution, hymnody, incense of prayer, Gospel forgiveness and Verba!

There stands before you invisible seraphim and one very visible angel. They have six wings and I have the Three-in-One and One-in-Three, the Trinity of both testaments to give you glory and peace by standing in the stead of He Who is your glory and peace. Sing with me in the Sanctus “Holy, Holy, Holy” for your Jesus Lord is Holy and this parish is filled with His glory as you are filled with His precious Body and sacred Blood.

   You were undone, because before His angels carried you to His side you were only a man and woman of unclean lips. And yes, you remain for a while dwelling in a land, in the midst of a people of unclean lips, but THIS DAY, your eyes of faith see the King, the Lord of hosts. Your very own pastor angel takes a live coal in his hand by the tongs of the ciborium, from off the altar of Christ’s sacrifice and lays it upon your lips, in your mouths, and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.

   Hear the good news, the evangel of Christ in your midst, in your mouths and bodies and ears. Hear, and believe, and join in with Michael’s cry of warfare fought and won; hear, and believe, and join in with Gabriel’s cry of strife and salvation from His annunciation to the Virgin to His Easter glad-tidings to the Magdalene; hear, believe, and join in with the preachment of Angel Watson: “your sin, your sorrow, Satan, your pain and sicknesses, your loss of fellow Saints, your fears and emptinesses have been overcome by the Blood of the Lamb, and by the Word(s) of Jesus’ testimony!” Now drink this Blood, eat this Lamb, for The Son of Man has come, is come, and has saved the lost.

In The Name of The Father and of The Son and of The Holy Ghost


  1. Like the late Mr. Dangerfield, the angels "get no" respect these days. I rather think its part of the all too prevailing OSOM ("out of sight, out of mind") syndrome. Oh, sure; admittedly we have those porcelain "Precious Moments" winged banalities (that's right, I said it: banalities. I mean, let's see them take on that all-serious-business, fire-vomiting Dragon of St. John's Revelation ... though granted, there's a slim chance Leviathan might develop an apoplexy, from laughing too hard).

    But really, people! We blithely substitute "This is the Feast" for the Gloria, because either we're bored with the notion of Peace (the incarnate kind, sillies) on earth, or because ... well, just because. Because we've got the freedom, now. Which fact, I suppose, includes a freedom from exercising the synapses.

    Don't get me wrong. "Feast" firmly and Scripturally speaks to the Eucharist and the Lamb who was slain, and has begun His reign etc., etc.. But it's out of sequence, in the locale where it's typically unleashed inside the Divine Service. It would make a great Distribution hymn, if not made over-powering by the blast of over-enthusiastic organ and vocal chord volume; but too often the chills come at the expense of the angels' paradigm-shattering song of Good News ... broadcast first to lowly shepherds sheltering their lowly, more prone-to-stray-than-pray flocks in the perils of night. The Historic Liturgy and its ordinaries have profound meaning. It is a living, moving catechesis at its best. That Liturgy speaks to the very Life of our Lord, you see. It preaches to His birth, His preaching with authority, His grand entry into Jerusalem, His Passion, and His SEEN salvation! And thence to recall, in so many words, the ascending Lord of Armies as He parts from His children ("for a little while"); urging them to go into the world to pursue our service to Him and our neighbor, encouraging us pathetic weaklings and beggars to be assured that we indeed have His blessing, His keeping, His shining/smiling countenance, and yes, His Peace/Presence. Always. Forever and ever.

    Of course, of no little note is that Scripture firmly declares that the heavenly angels witnessed that parting from a mount, following the dearly Departing's address to his earthly angels. The heavenly angels gladsomely took advantage of the occasion to pronounce to shepherd-men yet ANOTHER coming of the Risen Departing, a re-coming more splendid than the first. But in the meantime, the heavenly ones surely had and have the backs of the earthly angels ... the Angel Watson and all the rest ... satisfactorily covered. In truth, the Dragon would have smoked us all, would have rotted and curdled every waving grain and drop of the vine, long before this time! But he hasn't, and he won't, no matter how difficult times might seem to the mortal brains comprised of dust. The Angel of the Lord's angels care about us, protect us, and defend us ... and are, accordingly and quite unceremoniously, trivialized and largely ignored by us in this our era. Our attitude has come to this: who cares if St. Paul has revealed to us, that the orderly and hierarchically-inclined angels WATCH and are CONCERNED about what we do ... how we go about revering the mighty God ... in the course of the Mass. Instead, it's as if we've come to accept that their true eternal purpose was to be obsessed with waltzing on a pin, so as to keep the Scholastics inebriated. Or to look awesomely cute, if in porcelain, in the face of dire Evil ... those over-arching and ever-present high principalities of maelstrom, miasma, mischief and mayhem.

    No wonder St. Peter calls us a "peculiar people" (Authorized Version). ;-)

    Your (very peculiar) servant,
    Herr Doktor S.S.P.

  2. My good Herr Doktor, Thank you for your beautiful and so, so astute theological observations. If only (really) you could get these to me BEFORE I try and write out some sort of homily. I would much prefer to preach (and for my flock to hear) your musings than mine. Then again, I am one lazy, lazy man. I have always tended to think of angels as a combination of Eastern Iconography and C.S. Lewis' weird descriptive (but not too descriptive) portrayal in PERELANDRA..."jacked" up also a bit by Ezekiel's vision (sans the Von Daniken nonsense). Nonetheless, thanks again by fellow Polycarpian for being an Angel to me of the Good News!
    frJ S.S.P.