Sunday, October 15, 2017

October 15, 2017
The Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity
If you've ever gone down to your local office supply store to buy ink cartridges for your printer, you know that the cost of said ink can feel like the equivalent of the national debt. There's some basis for this feeling, however. Compare the cost of printer ink, say, to the gas you put in a car, for example, and you'll find the relative cost to be staggering.
According to Consumer Reports, printer ink costs between $13 and $75 per ounce or a whopping $9,600 per gallon. (Toner cartridges for laser printers are even worse, so I won’t get into that!) Based on that pricing, you could get 2,917 gallons of regular gas for the cost of a single gallon of printer ink. In fact, it might be cheaper for you to buy silver (about $17 per ounce as of this writing) than print out my sermon every week.
To make matters worse, a lot of that precious ink gets wasted and never actually reaches the page. Some of the ink gets used for cleaning the print heads, some is residual and some just evaporates. That explains why you're constantly running to the store and emptying your wallet for more, not to mention the cost of the paper upon which the ink gets printed. Add to that the fact that about 40 percent of the printed paper in an average office is thrown away after just one reading and it's easy to see why hitting "print" on your computer might just be the most expensive thing you do every day. I used to print most everything (in some cases we were required to do so) where I previously worked, and it was amazing how much toner and paper we used in an average month. I’d be rich if I had that expense as income! I could use that right now while I am unemployed, well anyway ….
Professor Sean Xiao-An Zhang of Jilin University in China has a solution to this red ink problem that might just change the way we use paper and print in the future: enter the "water-jet" printer. You might be familiar with the concept of disappearing ink from watching spy movies, but this innovation uses it on a whole new level.
The printer uses paper treated with "water responsive dyes" and replaces the ink with water. When the water touches the paper it unlocks the color from the dyes and disappears when the water dries up after about 24 hours. In other words, the printed text is there for a day and then fades away. Using this method, a single piece of paper can be used multiple times for printing since it's blank again the next day. The resultant cost is only 1 percent of regular ink-jet printing.
But what good is a printed piece of paper that you can only read for 24 hours, you ask? Well, it's great for those memos that only need to be read once or for newspapers and magazines that can be printed out one day and then the paper reused for the next day's edition. It's an intriguing concept for those who prefer reading on paper but don't want to fill up the recycling bin while emptying their wallets.
The water-jet printer is great for temporary reading, but it's hard to imagine paper and ink ever being completely replaced. Figuratively speaking, however, most ink disappears after time. Think, for example, about how many documents, files and books are permanently printed but are rarely ever seen again once they're put in a file cabinet or placed on the shelf of a library. Sure, there are classic works and papers we want to preserve, and we look at them from time to time, but how much ink in the world has faded from memory? With all those trees felled and ink spilled, what is it that really lasts?
We don't know if Jesus ever put pen and ink to paper. The only time He is recorded as writing something was when the elders of the town were chasing a prostitute through town and ended at Jesus’ feet. He was said to have written something in the sand, but it was not recorded as what He actually wrote. No record exists that he ever kept a library of his own. We do know, however, that Jesus was immersed in Israel's Scriptures in a way that did not require him to carry a Torah scroll with him or keep a filing system. The text never disappeared from his memory, and the words that he spoke were so important that among tons of paper and gallons of ink ever used in history, they are the most important -- so much so that precious ink is still used to show them to the world. And maybe none of those words are as important as those spoken by Jesus in this week's passage, known to history as "The Great Commandment."
In Matthew's gospel, this passage appears in a series of rapid-fire questions from the religious authorities who are grilling Jesus in the temple. The Pharisees maintained huge libraries of commentaries about the Torah and believed themselves to be experts in the law as it appeared on ink and paper. When they heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, another religious literate group, they gathered together and had a lawyer among them ask Jesus a question designed to "test" him. The test question, or "trick" question was: "Which commandment in the law is the greatest?"

There were, of course, a lot of commandments to choose from. The rabbis of Jesus' day counted 613 commands in the law (known as “precepts”) -- 248 positive commands, corresponding to the number of parts of the body, and 365 negative commands, corresponding to the days of the year. The view was that all the commandments were equal, with any ranking of them seen as the height of human arrogance. The lawyer may have been trying to get Jesus to make a statement that disparaged one part of the law over another, like declaring the moral laws as being more important than the ceremonial laws, the latter of which Jesus already interpreted differently than the Pharisees. It's no coincidence that Matthew uses the same word "test" here as he used to describe what Satan was doing to Jesus in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). It's a trap to see which words Jesus will keep and which ones he will allow to disappear.
And so Jesus answers, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.” Jesus answers with words that were familiar to every Jew, words that were (and still are) recited every morning and evening as a prayer. The "Shema", “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one,” (Deuteronomy 6:4-6) was so important that pious Jews took the commandment to "bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates" literally. Little scrolls containing the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-5 were (and still are) worn on the foreheads of pious Jews in leather boxes called phylacteries and attached to doorposts in little containers called mezuzahs. I have a mezuzah on my front door as a matter of fact. It was a command to be carried, worn and touched. (There is one on one of the doors at Disneyland too! Of course, I had to throw that in there.)
But even more than that, it was a command to be lived. In a sense, the words on the scroll were unnecessary because they were prayed and recited daily. The irony of the "test" is that those standing in front of Jesus in their phylacteries had the text in paper and ink and yet they did not realize that in their desire for religious correctness they were allowing it to disappear.
In fact, Jesus tells the crowds to listen to the teaching of the Pharisees but not to do as they do "for they do not practice what they teach." Of all the commandments in their scrolls, Jesus says, this commandment is "the first and greatest" -- not just to be taught, but to be lived. Even if the words on the scrolls disappeared, this commandment remains permanent.
The second commandment is "like" the first: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself". This commandment from Leviticus 19:18 wasn't just to be worn on the forehead, but it was to be kept in the heart and obeyed through the hands. For Jesus, love of God naturally works its way outward in love for neighbor, and love for neighbor can be an expression of love for God. If you put these two commandments together, says Jesus, you will boil down all the words of "the law and the prophets". The words printed by the water-jet printer may disappear every 24 hours, but the words of Jesus will never disappear.
In fact, it would be proper to say that we carry these words of Jesus written on us in water every day. When we're baptized or when we baptize our children, we express our love for God -- heart, soul, mind and strength -- and we are commissioned to love our neighbors. The grace, love and forgiveness we receive in baptism is to be shared, which is why the last command that Jesus gives his disciples in Matthew's gospel is to "go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19-20).
The command of Christ is written in water on us as a permanent mark that can be used again and again for his glory. When we love God and love our neighbors, the word of Christ will always be visible. Real simple, but it seems so hard in our modern times.
Printer ink may be ungodly expensive and destined to be thrown away or forgotten. The watermark of love, however, is designed to last forever!
Let us pray.
That all Christians may increase their faith to know that Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. We pray to the Lord. (Lord hear our prayer)
That politicians and economists will commit themselves to resolving the world’s ills so that all may enjoy a true quality of life. We pray to the Lord.
That our government will see to helping the victims of our recent hurricanes, especially that of the devastated territory of the United States, Puerto Rico, with help and commitment in rebuilding what they have lost. We pray to the Lord.
That all workers may receive respect and protection of their rights, and that the unemployed may receive the opportunity to contribute to the common good. We pray to the Lord. (This prayer was suggested for this day by Pope Francis.)
For an end to terrorism, and for the protection of all those who serve in our country’s armed forces. We pray to the Lord.
For those suffering from debilitating illness or chronic pain; that God may strengthen and uplift them. We pray to the Lord.
For the grace this week to live by faith in every circumstance of life. We pray to the Lord.
Loving Father, let Your merciful work be seen by your servants. May we experience Your gracious care. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
God Love You +++
 + The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Universal Catholic Church
San Diego, Ca.
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Sunday, October 8, 2017

October 8, 2017
St. Francis Sunday
Born in Italy circa 1181, St. Francis of Assisi, though revered today, began his life as a confirmed sinner who was renowned for drinking and partying in his youth. Francis was born to a wealthy family, therefore he was not in want during his youth. After fighting in a battle between Assisi and Perugia, Francis was captured and imprisoned for ransom. He spent nearly a year in prison—awaiting his father's payment—and, according to legend, began receiving visions from God. After his release from prison. During this time, while praying before an old Byzantine crucifix at the church of San Damiano, Francis reportedly heard the voice of Christ, who told him to rebuild the Christian Church and to live a life of extreme poverty. Francis obeyed and devoted himself to Christianity. He began preaching around Assisi and was soon joined by 12 loyal followers.
Later in life, Francis reportedly received a vision that left him with the stigmata of Christ—marks resembling the wounds Jesus Christ suffered when he was crucified—making Francis the first person to receive such holy wounds. As we know, during his life he also developed a deep love of nature and animals and is known as the patron saint of the environment and animals.
One day, as legend has it, while riding on a horse in the local countryside, Francis encountered a leper. Prior to the war, Francis would have run from the leper, but on this occasion, his behavior was very different. Viewing the leper as a symbol of moral conscience—or as Jesus incognito, according to some religious scholars—he embraced and kissed him, later describing the experience as a feeling of sweetness in his mouth. After this incident, Francis felt an indescribable freedom. His earlier lifestyle had lost all of its appeal.
Subsequently, Francis, now in his early 20s, began turning his focus toward God. Instead of working, he spent an ever-increasing amount of time at a remote mountain hideaway as well as in old, quiet churches around Assisi, praying, looking for answers, and helping nurse lepers.
Some regarded Francis as a madman or a fool, but others viewed him as one of the greatest examples of how to live the Christian ideal since Jesus Christ himself. Whether he was really touched by God, or simply a man misinterpreting hallucinations brought on by mental illness and/or poor health, Francis of Assisi quickly became well-known throughout the Christian world.
Francis's embrace of Christ-like poverty was a radical notion at the time and would be even more radical in modern time. Francis set out on a mission to restore Jesus Christ's own, original values to the now-decadent church. With his incredible charisma, he drew thousands of followers to him. They listened to Francis's sermons and joined in his way of life; his followers became known as Franciscan friars.
Francis of Assisi died on October 3, 1226, at the age of 44, in Assisi, Italy. He was canonized as a saint just two years after his death, on July 16, 1228, by his former protector, Pope Gregory IX. Today, Francis has a lasting resonance with millions of followers throughout the world.
Certainly, St. Francis led an un-conventual life to be sure. Can you imagine someone in similar, yet in a modern manner, choosing a life such as St. Francis chose? Not something the average person could do for sure. Yet, some men and women still do throughout the world, though in declining numbers.
However, let’s be honest, I am sure St. Francis would not recommend to each of us to take such an extreme change of life. Still, he is an example to each of us to emulate many ways. We may not have riches to leave and take on poverty, but some of us do indeed live in simple forms. We may not be given the grace of the stigmata, but some of us do live with other forms of sacrifice in our lives. We may not have the various spiritual gifts he had, such as the gift to communicate with animals, but almost all of us have a gift, even though many of us have not learned what it is and/or have not learned how to use it. Some gifts are as simple as the gift of making someone laugh, or listen to someone who needs an empathetic ear, or maybe something less common and more charismatic.
Still, as the patron of our humble chapel, St. Francis does present us an example for us each to follow; he presents an example that is in imitation of Christ. He calls us as a prime example that what Jesus calls us to do in our lives and for our relationships with each other is not only good, but something that all of us are very capable of living out in our lives as well.
Francis, following in the example of Christ, ministered to the lepers and undesirables in the world. He lived a simple life, yet a complex one for many of us fail to understand. He was so filled with faith, that the Lord blessed him with the stigmata; the wounds of Christ. The closest we have in our modern times to have these marks, was Padre Pio who died in 1968. To have this miracle happen to oneself, is beyond imagining.
Soon, it will be our 50th anniversary here in our humble chapel. Like St. Francis’ ministry, we minister as we can with humble means. But we do minister. Like Francis, we welcome the “lepers” of society. We know there are few true lepers in comparison to Francis’ time, but  we have our modern day “lepers”. Those either in society who are shunned or less fortunate. Those in the Church who are made to feel unwelcome because they are different; whether it be in thought or action.
It has been my dream, as most of you know, to take St. Francis Chapel to the next level. There are so many people who are made to feel as though they are lepers - and we need to follow Christ’s example; we need to follow St. Francis’ example and not be afraid to touch them, whether in their physical, psychological or social pain. We must not leave anyone out. We offer an openness that is welcoming. We could be like some who would argue about who should be allowed access to the Sacraments or not, but this does an injustice to those who need the church.
As it has been stated before, and I state again – if we are to insist on perfection of our members, the sanctuaries will become empty because no one is perfect except Christ. As it is, the Church is here for ALL people – perfect or flawed – but we are all flawed my friends – we are all flawed. We all need the merciful love of Christ in our lives and we must make our door open to all the modern day “lepers”.  The divorced “leper”, the addicted “leper”, the LGBT “leper”, the “leper” who just had an abortion, the refugee “leper”, the homeless “leper”, the any type you can think of “leper”. We must be Francises to them all.
We cannot correct the ills of society unless we are willing to become passionate about it. We cannot correct the ills of society if we are unwilling to get our hands dirty. Yes, we live in a very fast paced world, much unlike that of Christ’s and St. Francis’ time, but we still can spare a little time; a little ear to listen; a little support to the misunderstood; a few coins or bills to the one on the street without judging what put these people them. None of us can do everything; but we can all do something!
Let us go forth from this day with a commitment to the “lepers” and non-“lepers” alike.  There is a prayer attributed to St. Teresa of Calcutta that which she often prayed, “Lord, open our eyes, that we may see You in our brothers and sisters. Lord, open our ears, that we may hear the cries of the hungry, the cold, the frightened, the oppressed. Lord, open our hearts, that we may love each other as You love us. Renew in us Your Spirit Lord, free us and make us one.” And in so doing this work she also said when asked how she was able to do so, “It is God’s work that has done it, not my work. I am like a pencil in His hand … The pencil has only to be used.”
Let me finish off with a story that I read from one of my Lectio Divina booklets I read each day, in which Keith Osmun wrote:
The meeting with the eighth-grade boys was getting nowhere. They seemed more interested in making jokes and distracting one another than in deciding what to do on their service day. Finally, the leader sitting next to me had had enough. “Guys, stop!” he began. “You’re in eighth grade now. You’re the leaders of this junior-high ministry. Those in the lower grades and the friends you bring are going to look to you as examples. We need you all to be invested.”
Sometimes we adults in the church need to hear the same admonition. We might think that we can just show up but not actually participate. I used to make the mistake of thinking that my witness of the gospel to others consisted solely of telling them about Jesus and bringing them to church. Then the rest of the work would be done by the Holy Spirit and the ministry staff.
That’s not the picture that our reading in Mark [Mark 6:35-44] gives us. The disciples told Jesus to send the people to buy food. But Jesus answered, “You give them something to eat.” Jesus wanted the disciples to be part of his work. Despite our faults and limited resources, God can do miraculous things when, like the disciples, we invest ourselves in God’s work.
And that is what we are called to do. That is what Christ is calling us to do. It is also what St. Francis came to know and did. We need to be passionate about this. Christ doesn’t expect us to be like Him, because we are mere humans, but He does want us to follow His example. Most of us do not, and may never have, the gifts that St. Francis had, but what we are called to do is emulate his faith and work as best as we can. That is all that is being asked of us; and we can do it! Let’s move mountains!
Let us pray.
That the church will go forth toward those who are wounded and in need of an attentive ear, forgiveness, and love. We pray to the Lord. (Lord hear our prayer.)
That God will direct the minds and hearts of those in public office for the true peace and freedom of all. We pray to the Lord.
For refugees and displaced persons; that they will be kept safe and be given a new home. We pray to the Lord.
That our parish will truly live as God’s people, following in the imitation of Christ and His servant, St. Francis. We pray to the Lord.
For all those who lack meaning, purpose, our good direction in life; that Jesus will draw close to them with his love. We pray to the Lord.
We pray for peace and eternal rest for the victims of the latest shooting in Las Vegas; and we additionally ask that love and comfort may come to those family members and friends left behind after this terrible incident. We pray to the Lord.
For our servicemen and women throughout the world, that they be kept safe from harm while serving our country’s interests. Grant rest eternal on the soldiers who were ambushed in Nigeria, and peace and comfort to their families and friends. We pray to the Lord.
We pray for the peace and eternal rest for Patty Maruszewski mother of our parishioner, Stephanie Maruszewski, and we also ask peace and comfort for Stephanie and her sisters and all family members and friends in this difficult time of loss. We pray to the Lord.
And as always, we ask for God’s blessings on our family members and friends who are still struggling with illnesses and other needs; that they may find comfort and healing and hope. We pray to the Lord.
Let me close with one of my many prayers that I say each day. I feel it fits into today’s message.
Father God, Your wisdom, power, and goodness are beyond my full realization. May understanding this keep me humble – especially in my daily dealings with Your people – my brothers and sisters, and in my acceptance of Your will without questions, anger or doubt.
I thank You for all you have given me for Your forgiveness, for my faith, for hope, especially for Your love and the love of my family and friends. I also thank You for all You have not given me, because through lacking, my need for You is made more evident.
God, I am unworthy and fail to act out of love time and time again. Forgive me for knowing Your will and choosing otherwise. Forgive me for my selfishness, pride, jealousy, greed, lust, vanity, laziness, dishonesty, prejudice, anger, impatience, and hatred. Forgive me for my insecurity and lack of faith in You.
Father, through Your Son, send Your Spirit to guide me through this day. Give me the wisdom to seek You always and in every one, give me the power to resist evil which preys on the weakness of my human nature. Give me the strength and courage to be more like Your Son every day. Help me to love and forgive those who hurt me, or whose actions I don’t understand. Help me to see You in them, to see their pain and suffering and to see their need for love. Please bless and protect my family. Please bless and protect my friends. Bring us all closer to You each day. Grant us peace and through the intercession of our Lady Mary we pray for world peace. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
God Love You +++
+ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Universal Catholic Church
San Diego, CA

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Sunday, October 1, 2017

http://October 1, 2017
St. Michael and All Angels Sunday
As Liberal Catholics, we tend to have a more open mind and even charismatic mind on the topic of Angels. What can be written about Angels would be very great and extant; while at the same time insufficient and minimalist. We know so much; yet we know so little. Should we focus on the recognized Canon of the Bible? Or should we consider all known Deuterocanonical (or as the non-Catholics call them, the apocryphal) sources as well? How about oral Tradition handed down from the Apostles? Or maybe Ancient Judaism, such as the Midrash or Talmud?
When one digs, as I have over the years, there is far more written and believed than many may think, but large chunks of it develops more questions than answers. I often wonder if this is not how it is meant to be. Maybe we are not meant to comprehend; maybe our finite brains simply can’t grasp all that there is to know. Maybe we have to be more like the Angels or more “perfect” like God to be able to understand and to do so without prejudice.
Why without prejudice, some have asked me? Maybe, it’s as I said; we need to be “perfect” like God to better understand and thus not try to interpret what we think we know by our carnal minds. As example, let’s briefly look at the argument of “gender” in regard to Angels, and you may understand what I mean.
There is no doubt that every reference to Angels in Scripture is in the masculine gender. The Greek word for “angel” in the New Testament, angelos, is in the masculine form. In fact, a feminine form of angelos does not exist. There are three genders in grammar—masculine (he, him, his), feminine (she, her, hers), and neuter (it, its). In Scriptures, Angels are never referred to in any gender other than masculine. In the many appearances of Angels in the Bible, never is an Angel referred to as “she” or “it.” Furthermore, when Angels appeared, they were always dressed as human males (Genesis 18:2, 16; Ezekiel 9:2). Of course, there exist many non-scriptural texts that state otherwise, but I am strictly referring to Scriptural.

The only named Angels in the (Catholic) Bible—Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Lucifer—had male names and all are referred to in the masculine. “Michael and his angels” (Revelation 12:7); “Mary was greatly troubled at his [Gabriel’s] words” (Luke 1:29); “Oh, Lucifer, son of the morning” (Isaiah 14:12).  “Almost as soon as he left the house, he found himself face-to-face with Raphael. Tobias did not know that Raphael was an angel of God, so he asked him where he was from. “I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand in the glorious presence of the Lord, ready to serve him” (Tobit 5:4-5 & 12:15).
Other references to Angels are always in the masculine gender. In Judges 6:21, the Angel holds a staff in “his” hand. Zechariah asks an Angel a question and reports that “he” answered (Zechariah 1:19). The Angels in Revelation are all spoken of as “he” and their possessions as “his” (Revelation 10:1, 5; 14:19; 16:2, 4, 17; 19:17; 20:1).

Some people point to Zechariah 5:9 as an example of female angels. That verse says, “Then I looked up—and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings! They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth.” The problem is that the “women” in this prophetic vision are not called angels. They are called nashiym (Hebrew -“women”), as is the woman in the basket representing wickedness in verses 7 and 8. (Interestingly, some modern scholars translate nashiym as Lilith, a demon like character. This, however, is not how ancient Jewish scholars translated this word at all, which tends to throw this view into a more mythical light. Some also argue that demons and Angels are not the same. That’s another argument we will not get into.) By contrast, the Angel that Zechariah was speaking to is called a malak, a completely different word meaning “angel” or “messenger.” The fact that the women have wings in Zechariah’s vision might suggest Angels to our minds, but we must be careful about going beyond what the text actually says. A vision does not necessarily depict actual beings or objects—consider the huge flying scroll Zechariah sees earlier in the same chapter (Zechariah 5:1–2). (I suppose one could also argue that many scholars tend to say that Angels do not actually have wings; it is a human rendering, but that can be disputed in either direction also.)

Some confusion about genderless Angels comes from a misreading of Matthew 22:30, which states that there will be no marriage in heaven because we “will be like the angels in heaven.” The fact that there will be no marriage has led some to believe that Angels are “sexless” or genderless because (the human thinking goes) the purpose of gender is procreation and, if there is to be no marriage and no procreation, there is no need for gender. But this is a leap that cannot be proven from the text. The fact that there is no marriage does not necessarily mean there is no gender. The only thing Jesus states is that Angels ‘do not marry’, but we can’t make the leap from “no marriage” to “no gender.” (One can also argue that Nephilim were children of Angels and human women [Genesis 6:1-4], as did our early church fathers [Justin Martyr, Eusebius, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Commodianus]; however, this was not how the ancient Jewish rabbis translated this text. To them, these were merely human beings of exalted social station. There are actually a few other arguments on this text, that we do not have time to go into here. Suffice to say, we can see how much we know and don’t know regarding Angels and how confusing it can become.)

Gender in language, then, is not to be understood strictly in terms of sexuality. With a couple exceptions where the translation of Scripture is difficult to translate, God frequently refers to Himself in the masculine. The Holy Spirit is never described as an “it.” God is personal and authoritative and is referred to in the masculine gender for reasons that may be lost to time, or merely beyond our human comprehension. I wonder if we haven’t allowed our earthly difficulties and prejudices with gender and sex to cloud what may or may not be God’s view. However, this is not meant as argument to convince one over the other, so much as presenting what we do know. We may all be surprised how this is dealt with when we arrive in heaven. One beauty of our church is that we might study these topics, but we do not get “hung-up” on how some may prefer one type of personal pronouns over others when referring to God of the Angels or as to who and what Angels are.
Now let’s deal with the war in heaven and Angels in general. I will try to list what we know from Scriptures. If I stray too far from that basis, we would be here all day, and this is meant to be a sermon – maybe even a short lecture; not a thesis. I will not state the specific Scripture passage, however I do have them written in my sermon for those who might want to see and research them. Please refer to my posting on Facebook or ask me for a copy.
There has been a war in heaven since the fall of Satan (Isaiah 14:2-14; Ezekiel 28:11-18). Satan’s domain is the earth and the air around the earth. (Job 1, 2)  This is why the Scriptures describes him as the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and that “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2) and his demon hosts as “spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Satan and his minions have actively opposed both the Holy Angels and God’s people since his fall.
In the Old Testament demons sought to hinder the ministry of the Holy Angels to Israel (Daniel 10:12-13). In the present Satan prowls around like a lion (1st Peter 5:8), opposing the spread of the Gospel (Matthew 13:19, 37-39; Acts 13:10), oppressing individuals (Luke 13:10-16; Acts 10:38), and uses sin to disrupt and pollute the church (Acts 5:1-11). Believers are to be wary of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11), give him no opportunity (Ephesians 4:27), and resist him (James 4:17).
The future conflict will involve Daniel and the dragon which is identified as Satan. The grammar structure in our reading today points to the fact that Satan will start the battle. Scripture does not reveal how Angels fight nor would we be able to comprehend such a battle. We do not know with what weapons and by what tactics this heavenly warfare will be. We tend to try to visualize this in art, but these are mere imaginings.
When Michael finally prevails, and Satan is forced forever out of the heavens. This event could be sparked by the end of the age, or the “Rapture” as some tend to call this. It would seem that Satan tries getting in the way of the believers passing through this realm into heaven during those times; the prince of the power of the air and his demon hosts will try to hinder their passage. Some speculate that this may trigger the battle with Michael and the Angels.
Michael is always seen as the defender of God’s people against satanic destruction. In Daniel 10 the inspired prophet gave an example of him in action. A Holy Angel, dispatched with an answer to Daniel’s prayer (Daniel 10:12), was delayed for three weeks by a powerful demon who was in control of the Persian Empire (Daniel 10:13; vs.20). It was not until “Michael one of the chief princes came to help” him (v.13) that he was able to prevail.
Daniel 12:1 also speaks of Michael’s defense of God’s people. The New Testament also speaks of Michael as the defender of God’s people. Jude 9 describes his conflict with Satan over the body of Moses after Moses’ death (Deuteronomy 34:5-6). Michael contested Satan for possession of Moses’ body, which Satan apparently wanted to use for some pernicious purpose. In the Lord’s power, Michael and thus Moses was buried in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day (Deuteronomy 34:6). Which leads some, further nuanced by Moses’ appearance to Jesus at the Transfiguration, that Moses was never actually buried.
There will no longer be a place for Satan in heaven anymore after his battle with Michael. The heaven’s cleansing is the earth’s pollution, however, as Satan’s full fury explodes on humanity when he is cast down to earth (Revelation12:12). The time of Satan is short.
Diablos (Devil) means slander, defamer, or false accuser - a fitting word for Satan, the ultimate false accuser (Revelation 12:10). Satan is a malicious prosecutor of God’s people, constantly trying to arraign them before the bar of God’s holy justice. 1st Peter 5:8 says that part of the prowling around more than likely includes looking for believers who are struggling in there walks and thus they may be accused before God’s throne. But the glorious truth is that there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) because “if anyone sins we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ (1 John 2:1). Romans 8:31-34 points out the impossibility of Satan destroying the bonds that those who are in Christ possess.
Satan was the most glorious created being (star of the morning Isaiah 14:12), and is now and forever branded the adversary. He demanded to be God (Isaiah 14:14) to ascend to that position which only God can have. He deceitfully led Eve into sin by manipulating her to distrust the nature, character and Word of God (Genes 3:2-5).
The Bible describes Angels as fellow believers (Revelation 19:10; 22:8-9), but the wording implies they and we are unequal.
There is an end to Satan’s reign, I want to point out. Satan’s time is only short for the remainder of the Tribulation-for his final assault on God’s people. His actual time will be three and a half years (a mockery of the 3 PM time in which Christ died on the cross) three and a half years of the reign of the Antichrist (Revelation 13:5), whom Satan places in power immediately after being cast down from heaven. It is a short time because Jesus Christ will return to establish His earthly millennial kingdom. No matter how sickening this situation looks, God is in control. Satan will rage against them but believers can take comfort in knowing that his ultimate defeat is certain. In the words of Martin Luther, “The Prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him; His rage we can endure; for lo, his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him.”
So, today instead of an inspiring sermon, you have had an educational/thought provoking one. I merely wanted to break down why it seems all the Angels seem to be embodied as male based on Scripture and what Scripture does say about the war in heaven. Boring for some; interesting to others. Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael pray for us.
Let us pray.
We ask that You send Your Holy Messengers to bear tidings of salvation to all of Your people. May Your people experience Your Holy Angels more frequently in our time. We pray to the Lord. (Lord, hear our prayer.)
We pray for those beset by tragedy, chaos or turmoil. For those fleeing the evils of war and those struck by the perils of nature; that the victims may know peace, shelter and assistance; may the soldiers, aid workers and civilians be given courage and resolve as they seek to rescue and give comfort. Especially we pray for refugees forced to flee their homes. We pray to the Lord.
That the Church may be a leader in civil rights and demonstrate love toward all people. We pray to the Lord.
For the grace this week to put the interests of others before our own. We pray to the Lord.
That You bless all who suffer in illness and struggles this week; bringing them healing, comfort, peace, hope and visible answers to their needs. We pray to the Lord.
Father, let the peace of heaven that surpasses all understanding guard our hearts and minds. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
God Love You +++
+ The Most Rev. Robert Winzens
Pastor – St. Francis Universal Catholic Church
San Diego, Ca.