Monday, May 8, 2017
It is evident from Holy Scripture that God is pleased to make frequent use of the ministry of the heavenly spirits in the dispensations of His providence in this world. The Angels are all pure spirits; by a property of their nature they are immortal, as is every spirit. They have the power of moving or conveying themselves at will from place to place, and such is their activity that it is not easy for us to conceive of it. Among the holy Archangels, Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael are particularly distinguished in the Scriptures. Saint Michael, whose name means Who is like unto God?, is the prince of the faithful Angels who opposed Lucifer and his followers in their revolt against God. Since the devil is the sworn enemy of God’s holy Church, Saint Michael is given to it by God as its special protector against the demon’s assaults and stratagems.
Various apparitions of this powerful Angel have proved the protection of Saint Michael over the Church. We may mention his apparition in Rome, where Saint Gregory the Great saw him in the air sheathing his sword, to signal the cessation of a pestilence and the appeasement of God’s wrath. Another apparition to Saint Ausbert, bishop of Avranches in France, led to the construction of Mont-Saint-Michel in the sea, a famous pilgrimage site. May 8th, however, is destined to recall another no less marvelous apparition, occurring near Monte Gargano in the Kingdom of Naples. In the year 492 a man named Gargan was pasturing his large herds in the countryside. One day a bull fled to the mountain, where it could not be found. When its refuge in a cave was discovered, an arrow was shot into the cave, but the arrow returned to wound the one who had sent it. Faced with this mysterious occurrence, the persons concerned decided to consult the bishop of the region. He ordered three days of fasting and prayers. After three days, the Archangel Michael appeared to the bishop and declared that the cavern where the bull had taken refuge was under his protection, and that God wanted it to be consecrated under his name and in honor of all the Holy Angels. Accompanied by his clergy and people, the pontiff went to that cavern, which he found already disposed in the form of a church. The divine mysteries were celebrated there, and there arose in this same place a magnificent temple where the divine Power has wrought great miracles. To thank God’s adorable goodness for the protection of the holy Archangel, the effect of His merciful Providence, this feast day was instituted by the Church in his honor. It is said of this special guardian and protector of the Church that, during the final persecution of Antichrist, he will powerfully defend it: “At that time shall Michael rise up, the great prince who protects the children of thy people.”
The Old Testament contains some of the most remarkable stories. Many of these tales revolve around a young shepherd boy named David who grew up to become the great King of Israel. His ascension to the throne was not without difficulties. Shortly after he was anointed by the prophet Samuel, David fell out of favor with the establishment and had to flee for his life. He hid out in the wilderness outside of Jerusalem with a group of his loyal followers. The Bible calls this group “David’s mighty warriors.” C. David Jones, in his book David’s Mighty Men, describes David’s entourage as a magnificent, special elite force of fearless warriors. They were extraordinarily strong, courageous, unflinchingly brave, and completely committed to David. They were thirty-seven of the most fierce and dedicated warriors that ever lived. Jones writes,
They were a combination of combat commandos, stealth rangers, navy seals, green beret, special ops and Delta forces who had acquired the skills of battle demanded to survive and conquer in hand-to-hand warfare. They engaged in clandestine operations and were often outnumbered by staggering odds pitted against them, yet they stood their ground. Time after time on fields of battle they were the last men standing.
One story in 2 Samuel recounts a time when David’s mighty men overheard King David say, “Oh that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate!” (2 Samuel 23:15). At this point in time, Israel’s hated enemies, the Philistines, had taken control of the city of Bethlehem. It was heavily guarded. The three mighty men, on their own, went down and fought their way through the lines of the Philistines. They made their way to the well in Bethlehem, where they drew water to take back to the young King. They eluded the pursuing Philistines, returned to their hideout, and presented the water to David. To their surprise, David would not drink the water they had risked their lives to retrieve. He poured it on the ground instead. David was not rejecting the sacrifice of the men who had gotten water for him. Rather, he was pronouncing their sacrifice too holy for him to selfishly consume. What an inspiring picture of the way Christians are called to live their lives. The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:15 that because Christ died for us, “…those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” This Old Testament story vibrantly illustrates the fact that we should not selfishly live our lives for ourselves. David poured the water out on the ground as a sacrifice to the Lord. Likewise, we are to take the priceless gifts that God has given us and pour them out as a sacrifice in service to Him and to our fellow man. This is what the Bible calls stewardship.
Stewardship is one of the most important and practical themes laid out in the Bible, and yet is often overlooked or minimized by Christians today. The Bible says a great deal about stewardship because this concept touches every area of our lives. The Disciple’s Study Bible defines stewardship as,
… a way of living that involves one’s daily activities, values and goals for life, and the use of all possessions. It begins with God and His plans for creation and purposes for humankind. The steward is God’s responsible representative and manager of all creation.