Remember what the Gospel says? Do not forget to entertain strangers; for doing so, you have unknowingly entertained angels” (Hebrews 13:2)
Angels are a fascinating phenomenon, as God created them before He created the universe and human beings in His image and likeness, male and female. God created His angels to worship Him, serve Him, and to send messages from Him to us and from us to the Lord. The problem is, are we aware of this? Are we listening? Do we remember that we might be “entertaining angels unknowingly?”
As an example of someone who listened, we remember the Theotokos, and there is no greater message from God than the great Feast of Christmas, when God became man by sending His Son Jesus to save the world, born of the Virgin Mary and announced by the Archangel Gabriel, for our salvation.
“Hail Mary, full of grace!” announced Gabriel. This is not only a Catholic prayer, but it is our prayer too, straight from Scripture, and we should not be afraid to say it.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
The same angel came to the shepherds in the field and announced the great news. We read in the Gospel of St. Luke:
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were afraid. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great tidings of great joy for all the people in the world. Today in the town of David, in Bethlehem, a Savior has been born; Jesus the Lord” (Luke 2).
Today, you and I and the world are going through uncertain times, imprisoned by the coronavirus which separates us from each other, closes businesses, churches and schools, and creates chaos throughout the whole world and in our nation, America. And yet, a life in Christ is a life that is still alive, even in the midst of this coronavirus.
Today, we need to beseech God’s angels; we need to hear the same words as those that were spoken to Mary: “Do not be afraid!” We can appeal to Archangel Michael to battle on our behalf as he did so long ago, in order for us to have peace in our lives.
The question is, do we have at least a mustard seed of faith so as to move mountains? Unfortunately, we live in a time where even Christians have lost our sense of mystery and wonder at the supernatural. We often don’t really believe that miracles still happen today, and that the angels are present with us.
Our faith is rational and intellectual: we have replaced sincere faith with science and statistics, and the stream of information we are subjected to through television and the media. God help us!
Today, we should not forget that we have an awesome and great Lord, Who turned the water into wine in Galilee. Today, we should not forget that the Lord opened the eyes of the blind and brought healing to the paralytic.
Although we do not become an angel when we die, our souls are indeed carried by the angel of the Lord to the Lord. The Cherubim aren’t babies–cherubs–but mighty angelic powers. Remember the solemn moment in the Great Entrance, when the acolytes carry the two fans signifying the Cherubim and the choir sings:
Let us all who mystically represent the Cherubim and the life-giving Seraphim receive the Lord!
Angels come to us in the form of human beings, sometimes in the faces of strangers, always saying to us, “Fear not!”
“Don’t be afraid” was the message that was said to the Prophet Daniel when he was in the lion’s den.
“Don’t be afraid” was said to Moses.
“Don’t be afraid” the Archangel Michael said to Abraham. “Don’t sacrifice your son Isaac.”
“Don’t be afraid Mary, for what you are bearing is of the Holy Spirit.”
“Don’t be afraid Zechariah. Your wife Elizabeth will bear a son of the Holy Spirit and You shall call him John.”
I say to you children, married couples, parents whose children who are sometimes out of town and away from you—all these times when you can’t watch over your loved ones, “Don’t be afraid. The angel of the Lord is with them!” As we are told in scripture:
For the Lord will command
His angels to guard us in all our ways.
He will lift us on Eagle’s wings so our feet will not not touch a stone.
The Lord will rescue and protect us.
He is with us in times of trouble.
Lord, preserve them, preserve the couple as You did preserve the holy children from the fire when they were in the furnace of fire. The three children’s names, whom we pray for on Sunday were Ananias, Azaries and Misail.
Archangel Michael was also the chief commander. He brought food to the Prophet Daniel when he was in the lion’s den and the lions did not devour him.
St. Michael and the angels will announce to us the end of the world. Everyone is frightened today because of this trouble and they say the end of the world is coming. We will believe it only when Archangel Michael and the angels say to us, in the words of St. Paul:
Brothers and sisters, don’t you become uninformed concerning those who fall asleep. Do not grieve like the rest of the world, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and we also believe that God will bring Jesus with those falling asleep in Him. According to the LORD’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the LORD, will certainly not precede them to those who fall asleep. For the LORD himself will come down from heaven, with a loud voice, with the command of the angels, with the voice of the Archangel Michael and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. And we who are alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the LORD in the air. And so, we will be with the LORD forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
St. Michael was known to be a healer. The Christians in Egypt placed the life-giving river, the Nile, into the protection of St. Michael. And St. Gregory the Great reminds us that St. Michael means, “Who is like God.” Wow. “Who is like God!” For he is also the guardian of the door of heaven. In the Orthodox Church, we celebrate St. Michael and the rest of the angels on November 8.
Today, we need to shout with great supplication to Christ our Lord to send, once again, the Archangel Michael. We need him now. We need his holiness to cast down injustice and war in America, in Syria, in Lebanon and Palestine, and in every troubled place. We need the Lord to send St. Michael to defend all the abused children and protect them. We need the Lord to send Archangel Michael to raise his hand against all fear and to give power to the weak as he did of old. The prayer of the Church says:
Commander of the heavenly hosts, St. Michael
we who are unworthy beseech you,
by your prayers encompass us beneath the wings of your immaterial glory and faithfully preserve us who fall down and cry to you: “Deliver us from all harm, for you are the Commander of the Almighty God:”
This is the second in a series of four reflections on the role of angels. Father George Shalhoub is pastor and founder of the Antiochian Orthodox Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, MI. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.