The dragon falls and heaven sings

Watching for the morning of September 29

St. Michael and All Angels

St Michael

St Michael (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

Michaelmas, the mass of St. Michael, falls on a Sunday this year and so we turn our attention to the hosts of heaven that serve as God’s messengers (the word angel is from the Greek word for messenger) and as the heavenly warriors in the spiritual battles that reflect the battles between good and evil on earth.

The scriptures do not indulge in the speculation about the ranks of heaven found in other works from the time.  The messengers of God cede the stage to the message of God.  Indeed, we are warned against such speculation.  This feast day focuses instead upon the grace and victory of God whose warriors battle on behalf of humanity and bear his word to us.  In one of the great metaphors of scripture, Michael and his angels fight against the dragon, the dragon and his messengers are thrown down, and heaven and earth bursts with song.  All that devours and destroys God’s precious world shall be forever defeated and Christ alone reign: the lamb who was slain but lives.

The Prayer for September 29, 2013

Almighty God,
before whom all heaven sings
and whose messengers do your bidding,
surround us with the song of heaven
and make us faithful as your servants;
through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.  

The Texts for September 29, 2013

First Reading: Daniel 10:10-14, 11:36, 12:1-3
“At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise.”
– Writing to the time of the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes IV, the author uses the Daniel traditions to call the community to faithfulness.  In a series of visions the author has Daniel see the conflict that is upon Judea and the coming triumph of God.

Psalmody: Psalm 103:1-5, 20-22
“Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will.” –  In an exquisite hymn of praise the poet calls for all creation – and the hosts of heaven – to bless the Lord.

Second Reading: Revelation 12:7-12
“War broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon.”
– Taking up the imagery from Daniel, the prophet describes the heavenly conflict between God and those that reject God’s reign, and their expulsion for the heavens.

Gospel: Luke 15:1-10
“The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!’” – Jesus sends out 70 witnesses with the commission to heal the sick and cast out evil spirits.  As they return in joy, Jesus declares that, as they carried out their mission, he saw Satan’s kingdom crumbling.

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