Podcast Reflections

Reflection on the Festival of Michael and All Angels

Listen to a reflection on John 1.17-51, the gospel reading set for the Festival of Michael and All Angels, 29 September

John 1.17-51

When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come to know me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.’ And he said to him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’


How often have you met a person whose faith radiates from him or her in a way that cannot be mistaken? Sadly, I suspect the honest answer is: ‘Not very often, if ever!’ In the earlier moments of the gospel narrative we see Jesus doing just this. Fishermen, a tax collector and, today, a man sitting under a fig tree, were all picked out by Jesus as having a faith strong enough to stand the trials and tribulations that would inevitably befall his disciples.

Today, the Church celebrates the Festival of Michael and All Angels. This festival, alongside that of Peter and Paul, is often associated with the ordination of deacons and priests. It is on this festival that those whom God has called into his ordained ministry line up with the archangel Michael in resisting the malign influence of the devil in our daily lives.

Talk of the devil may seem medieval and superstitious, but is it? The word ‘devil’ conjures up pictures of ugly creatures with tails, horns and pitchforks … the pictures we might see in the paintings of the old masters; the pictures we see in the medieval wall paintings in our church in Corby Glen. But, such images belittle the power of the devil in our daily lives. Every time we are tempted to do something we know to be contrary to God’s command we are allowing the devil to distance us from the God who created us and who loves us. All those harsh words, dubious transactions and dirty dealings are the works of the devil. Similarly, every time we put our love of God and neighbour on the back-burner we are following the path of the devil and not that laid for us by God.

The opportunities to stray from the Christian way are numerous and not always obvious. Even when we believe we are doing something in a spirit of Christian love and service we may find ourselves following a self-serving path that will inflate our status and influence in the world. The devil lurks around every corner, and we need to be careful.

In the baptism service, candidates or their godparents are asked: Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God? Let us pray for the strength to honour the answer to that question: I reject them. Let us pray that we might set aside all that distances us from God. Let us pray that we might join the company of Michael and All Angels as we play our part in the battle against evil in this world.