Summary: Celebrates the feast of St Michael and the angels on September 29th.
Today, September 29th is the day on the church calendar set aside to celebrate St. Michael and the angels. In a world where science and facts are the mainstays of reality, people hunger still for the miraculous. The popularity of shows like “Touched by an Angel,” “It’s a Miracle” or any of the so-called psychics on television confirm the desire to see into the spiritual world or the miraculous. We all know or have heard of people who were sent home by doctors to die and still 4 or 5 years later are active with no signs of disease. Sometimes it is something simple that happens, like a stranger showing up to help with just what is needed and then disappearing.
If you ask anyone in my family if they have ever seen an angel; they would tell you the story that occurred on winter Sunday. We were driving up a very steep hill in town in a van. This was before mini-vans and this big 9-passenger van was not good on slippery roads. The road was snow packed and there was drizzle, the kind that freezes on anything it touches. The van started to slip sideways back down the hill and there was not enough weight to get any traction. There was no one around and the more Terry tried to get the van up the hill, the more precarious the situation became. Suddenly, we started to go forward and the children began to yell, “there’s a jogger pushing us up the hill!” We were all astounded that one person could make such a difference especially when I looked back and it was this thin man in a black racer’s jogging suit pushing with one hand on the corner of the van. But, we were pulling to the top of the hill. We were all watching forward to see if we would get over the railroad tracks at the top and when we crossed them the children began to yell, “He’s gone, where is he?” We stopped and looked in all directions in this wide opened area and there was no one. It was eerie. One of the children said in a hushed voice, maybe it was an angel. I do not know.
Those kinds of stories or encounters tend to send chills down your spine. However, if you look throughout the Bible there are many stories about Angels and their work. I want to remind you of some of the miraculous stories in the Bible. Abraham entertained two angels who told him that he and his wife, Sarah, would have a child within a year. Considering Abraham and Sara were in their nineties and Isaac actually was born within the year, that was a miraculous story.
Isaac’s son Jacob wrestled with an angel and had a dream of angels on a ladder up to heaven. Those were miraculous stories.
Moses saw an angel in a burning bush, a messenger from God. The bush was not consumed with fire and Moses was called to go back to Egypt and lead his people out of slavery. His call was a miraculous story.
When the Israelites traveled in the wilderness God sent an angel in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to lead the people. It was a miraculous story.
Even animals have seen angels. One of the most humorous stories in the Bible is the prophet Balaam trying to get his donkey to move. He urged the animal forward every way you can think of finally beating the poor creature. Suddenly, the animal spoke to Balaam and told him that there was an angel in the road in front of them and he would not go forward. The angel then told Balaam not to go against the Israelites. The angel, the donkey speaking, it is a miraculous story.
Gideon was called to serve as a judge of Israel by an angel. Elijah was tended by an angel as he lay under a broom tree. Shadrack, Meshack and Abednigo were put in a fiery furnace and a fourth man was seen in the fire with them. When the fire was put out Shadrack, Meshack and Abednigo did not even smell like smoke because the angel had protected them. These are all miraculous stories.
Daniel was put into the lion’s den and the Bible says that angels closed the mouths of the lions. All night he was kept safe. The king was amazed to see him alive the next morning. The reading that we have today from the book of Daniel is the end of a story. Let me tell you what happened. Daniel had been praying and fasting for 3 weeks. He was standing with a group of people beside the Tigris River when he saw an angel. His description of the person says, “he was clothed in linen with a belt of gold, his face was like lightning, his eyes flaming torches. His arms and legs were like bronze and his voice was like a multitude.” Although the others could not see this vision, they ran away in fright. Daniel on the other hand, did what I think I would do after seeing such a sight, …he passed out. Our reading is the vision he saw after he fainted. It was about the end of time. The whole encounter is a miraculous story.