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11-08-08: Feast of SS. Michael & Gabriel and All Bodiless Powers

Feast of SS. Michael & Gabriel and All Bodiless Powers

We live in the physical world, which our God created and we become preoccupied with it and its effect on our lives. We have physical bodies and we become over indulgent and preoccupied, and accord them more value than our spiritual soul in our contemporary society. Because we can feel, see and touch ourselves physically, we oftentimes think that is all there is in our world.

Yes, it is true we are aware somewhat of the spiritual world and its inhabitants. But all too often, as this feast insists, we recall only the bodiless powers whom we popularly call angels, but to our detriment, do not allocate any consideration to the evil spirits who also influence so much of our lives and surroundings. The invisible world is definitely not a part of the physical, material universe. In stark contrast to the bodiless powers who glorify our God, offering continual adoration with the resounding cry of "Holy! Holy! Holy!" Isaiah 6: 3; Revelation 4: 8, we have additionally those who do not do God's will. According to our blessed faith, they are those about whom we do not like to think because they rebel against the Blessed Trinity and do evil wherever they can.

These are the demons or devils which word literally means those who "pull apart" or "destroy" and are known to us both in the Old and New Testaments as well as in dramatic lives of the saints.

They seek to pervert and destroy God's good creation. Scripture teaches us, "There were angels, too, who did not keep to their own domain, who deserted their dwelling place. "These the Lord has kept in perpetual bondage, shrouded in murky darkness against the judgment of the great day. Sodom, Gomorrah, and the towns there about indulged in lust, and just as those angels did, they practiced unnatural vice. They are set before us to dissuade us, as they undergo a punishment of eternal fire" Jude 6, 7.  The second epistle of St. Peter reminds us, "Did God even spare the angels who sinned? He did not!" 2 Peter 2: 4.

The Book of Revelation teaches, "...the devil and satan, the deceiver of the world, was thrown down to the earth and his angels were thrown down with him" Revelation 12: 9. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah, verifies for our edification, "How have you fallen from heaven, Lucifer, son of the dawn! How are your cut down to the ground, you who mowed down the nations! You said in your heart: 'I will scale the heavens above the stars of God I will set up my throne; I will take my seat on the Mount of Assembly, in the recesses of the North. I will ascend to the tops of the clouds; I will be like the Most High!' Yet down to the nether world you go to the recesses of the pit!" Isaiah 14: 12 - 15.

Satan which means the enemy or the adversary is the one appropriate name for the devil, the leader of the evil spirits, He is identified with the serpent symbol in the third chapter of the book of Genesis as the tempter both of Job and our Saviour. "Behold that he is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord" Job 1: 6; "He stayed in the wasteland forty days, put to the test there by Satan" Mark 1: 13.

Our Lord identifies him as a deceiver and downright liar, the "...father of lies" John 8: 44 and "...prince of this world" John 12: 31; 14: 30; 16: 11. He has "fallen from heaven" together with his evil angels, to do battle with God and his servants (Luke 10: 18; Isaiah 14: 12). It is this very same satan who "...entered Judas" Luke 22: 3, to effect the betrayal and destruction of Christ.

Most vividly our Lord describes him: "He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies" John 8: 44.

The apostles and saints of the Church very well knew from direct experience satan s powers against man for his destruction. They also understood very well the lack of power in the devil and his own ultimate destruction when man is with God, filled by the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Church has universally and incessantly taught there is no middle ground between God and the devil. Ultimately and at any given moment, man is either with God or with the devil, serving one or the other. We cannot serve God and have sympathy for the devil. We cannot favor the devil and say we believe in God.

The ultimate victory belongs to our God and to those who are faithful to him. Satan and his hosts will be finally destroyed. Without this recognition, without this conviction, and the actual experience of this reality of the overwhelming cosmic struggle between God and satan, the good angels and the evil angels, one cannot truly identify himself as an Orthodox Christian who understands, sees and lives according to the deepest realities of a God-given life.

Reality teaches us and it must be clearly noted that the devil is certainly not a "red-suited gentleman with a long forked tail" nor any other type of grossly unattractive physical dimension. He is a spiritual being. He is a very subtle, intelligent tempter who acts mostly by deceit and hidden actions, having as his greatest victory man's silly disbelief in his existence and power. Thus, the devil attacks "head-on" only those whom he cannot deceive in any other way. Most of us are gullible enough to embrace his temptations because they always come to us in attractive packaging. Jesus was attacked head-on. And the greatest power of the devil is to remain concealed and to act by indirect methods and means.

St. Peter echoes a sound warning, "Be sober and watchful. Your adversary, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour' 1 Peter 5: 8, while St. Paul is not hesitant to share his own experiences, "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. We are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places" Ephesians 6: 11, 12.

Our joy and boast and edification is that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ has destroyed the power of the devil. He came into the world precisely for this reason. If one is "in Christ" 2 Corinthians 5:17, he is led out of temptation and delivered from the evil one. If one is "in Christ" Colossians 2: 5, the devil, who "...disguises himself as an angel of light" 2 Corinthians 11: 14, cannot deceive or harm him. To be victorious with SS. Michael & Gabriel and all the bodiless powers of heaven, over the alluring and deceiving temptations of the devil is the very goal of our spiritual life in Christ Jesus, ordered and guided by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

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