THERE was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. [Revelation 12:7-8]
Angels fascinate people. There was an article I read many years ago that said that the average American loves angels. The people interviewed said they believed in angels even though they did NOT believe in Christ, the Devil, or Hell.
But, what is equally fascinating is our need to emasculate these holy beings. We see many pictures or statues of dewy-eyed angels who are androgynous, not clearly male or female, or cherubim that look more like fat babies or cupid than the fierce beings that angels really are. But this is our way to make harmless that which we do not fully understand and that which frightens us.
We know that angels are not harmless creatures. Our first encounter with an angel came when mankind was driven from the Garden of Eden:
Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. [Genesis 3:23-24]
And although they may take human form, the actual appearance of angels is anything but what we may picture:
Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. [Isaiah 6:2-4]
However, we also know that angels have been divine messengers, traveling between heaven and earth.
And [Jacob] dreamed, and behold, a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold, the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
And Christ Himself makes it clear that the conduit, the ladder if you will, between Heaven and Earth is He:
And [Jesus] saith unto [Nathanael], “Verily, verily, I say unto you, hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”
Christ reunited Heaven and Earth starting with the Incarnation and continuing with the Atonement. With these two acts of God, the breech between the spiritual and the physical worlds of creation are healed, in part. The fulfillment of this healing will not be completed until the Second Coming of Christ.
But, as we also know, there are two types of angels. Those angels, who are good, are the embodiment of love and mercy, helping mankind by guarding and guiding us. Those who are bad, however, are malicious, vindictive, and beguiling. They seek our destruction. However, the evil angels, also known as devils, really have no power over us. They MUST convince us; they MUST beguile us because, without our cooperation, they have no power over us precisely because we Christians have been bathed in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.
I read once a very haunting image of the fall of Man. As Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, Lucifer, or as we better know him, Satan starts whispering in their ears. As they walk literally away from God they also do so spiritually. They are hearing God less and less because of the din of Satan’s whispering in their ears.
We also know that angels have taken human form. One of the earliest encounters between angels in human form and mankind was Abraham with the angels that were going on to Sodom and Gomorrah. Eventually, the angels got to Sodom, where Lot protected them. Because of these and other encounters, Saint Paul wrote:
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. [Hebrews 13:2]
But, whatever the nature of angels may be, we must remember that, for some reason, they were not the ultimate goal of God’s creation. The real goal was mankind. This is revealed in God’s great act of love, the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. And through our faith in Him, we gain authority over the angels as is revealed in this passage of Saint Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians:
Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life? [1 Corinthians 6:2-3]
Although in this passage, Saint Paul is admonishing the Church in Corinth NOT to go to civil court when in dispute with a fellow Christian, but rather to handle it within the Church, it does reveal something quite startling.
We will help judge the world? I certainly hope not. I do not feel worthy to judge anyone, let alone angels, but this passage does help to formulate the fact that God’s ultimate goal was to create mankind. It also explains why Lucifer and the other dark angels hate mankind so much.
None of this information appears to help us to become better Christians, but this is NOT true. It clearly helps us to understand the nature of the spiritual world. And, through this, it helps us to grow as Christians.
Spiritual growth is never easy. We learn through our errors. We learn through our sins. And we learn through our trials and tribulations. But, we also learn through our studies and our worship. And these also strengthen us.
If we are not aware of what is going on in the spiritual realm, we are left vulnerable. We must strive to be innocent, but we MUST NOT be ignorant. That is why we must grow in understanding as to angels and demons, saints and sinners, and most importantly of all, ourselves. We must see and remove the beams within our own eyes.
And nowhere is our education so lacking than in the mysteries of the Church. We have grown up under the influence of the Rationalists. We have all become scientists, demanding quantifiable data. If our senses cannot perceive it, we think it does not exist. That is the folly of modern man.
Our lessons for today make it clear that there is another world – a world we are unable to perceive with our senses but which is as real as the pews we now sit upon. In this world, the Mass itself is a great mystery. In this world, the bread and the wine we are about to enjoy become THE body and THE blood of Christ. In this world, God’s presence is in this room and in our Ambry. In this world, angels constantly speak to us, guiding us, and, if they be the true angels of the Lord, calling us back to God to be His faithful servants.
As your spiritual shepherd, I am telling you right now that we are at war. It is NOT a physical war where we can see the casualties, but it is a war nonetheless. The losses currently are huge. They are the lost souls of our world. They are the youth who are so plugged in that they can no longer hear the still, small voice of God. They are the middle-aged who are so sure of themselves they do not question their own spiritual hunger. And they are the elderly who are trying so hard to still be loved that they are willing to compromise their beliefs in order to be accepted by a world that has worked hard to shove them aside.
We all have Satan whispering in our “ears” to make sure we do not hear the Lord, but we Christians have an advantage. Through the Blood of Christ, we have regained our hearing. Through the Cross of Christ, we have regained our sight. And through the Word of God, we have regained our mobility. We are saved, and we are healed.
I therefore implore you all who are here – listen. Do NOT listen with your ears, but with your heart. I implore you also to see. Do NOT see with your eyes, but with your faith. And I implore you to feel. Do NOT feel with your hands or with your nerves, but with your soul. If you do this, you will hear, see, and feel as a child. And suddenly the mysteries of the Church will make sense. And a whole brave new world will be open to you.
But this is NOT enough. This is NOT the end. This is NOT the goal. Once we hear, see, and feel, we must then act. God calls us to various roles in this great spiritual war, and we must find out what our role should be. However, once we discover our role we MUST fulfill it.
One of the most powerful roles is that of Evangelist. As His priests, we MUST all spread the word of God. We MUST go forth as Christ ordered us to do and convert as much of the world as possible. If we do not, if we just sit here self-satisfied that we have a nice church and a pleasant way of worshipping, then WE are complicit in the corruption and destruction of our brothers and sisters. We are at war, and either we are with God, or we are against Him. There is no neutral ground, and there is no Switzerland.
So now is the time that tries a Christian’s spirit. We must choose, and we must choose now. So choose.