We pray the St. Michael Prayer often. This battle between St. Michael and Satan is not just personal between the two of them. It is part of a cosmic battle: the struggle between the goodness and generous love of God and the sin and evil in a fallen world. It takes many forms and expressions.
This battle is measured, not in terms of dollars and cents, games won or lost, but what happens to people. As the U.S. bishops said in their pastoral letter on the economy: the measure of an economy is not the gross national product, but what it does for the poor, especially the most vulnerable. The measure of a great nation is not how many battle ships it has, but what it does to and for people, especially the most in need.
The battle can be clearly seen and delineated sometimes: a person takes a machine gun and shoots innocent people. A small group of people hijack some airplanes and crash them into the Twin Towers. Good and evil are clearly seen.
Other times it is foggy and not clear. A pharmaceutical company creates opioids that reduce pain but creates addictions. Was it deliberate greed? Was it accidental? ???
Violence in Central American countries, changes in weather patterns in Africa, drought, famine cause mass migrations. Changes in economic policy, trade, and tariffs have effects on farmers, manufacturers, and families: industries change, hardworking people lose jobs, people turn to addictions. Some lose faith in society, others lose faith in God.
The cause and effects and not always clear. Motivation and blame are not always easily discerned. Solutions are not always obvious. But there can still be great human suffering.
But all these things are not merely insignificant. They are part of the cosmic battle. God’s creation is in turmoil. And the crown of that creation—the human person, created in God’s images and likeness–is often suffering.
There are two primary things to remember:
- The battle lines are drawn and clear.
- And God takes sides. God opts for the poor and the suffering.
“You cannot serve both God and mammon.”
“To those who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor,” who cannot wait for the religious ceremonies to be over so they can cheat people, Yahweh says: “Never will I forget a thing they have done!”
Yahweh appeared to Moses in the burning bush: And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;
8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians. (Ex 3:7-8a)
We often pray: “The Lord hears the cry of the poor.”
Jesus’ parable of Lazarus and the rich man who did nothing to help Lazarus, the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Last Judgment in Matthew’s Gospel make it clear where He stands.
St. John Paul II said we must choose between the culture of life and the culture of death.
And there is no neutrality. We often cannot see the battle lines in the battle. People of good faith may have different solutions and approaches to reducing the human suffering in the battle, but we are never neutral about which side we are on. We serve Christ and the Kingdom of God.
Nor can we be neutral and withdraw to only a “spiritual battle.” The battles in the Bible are about slavery, oppression, working people to death to support Pharaoh’s economy, the slaughter of the innocents, being conquered and carried off to a foreign land as slaves, returning to a homeland. The prophets call us to defend the widow, the alien, the orphan. Jesus calls for feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, caring for the foreigner, the sick, the imprisoned—and to be willing to suffer for it.
Authentic spirituality is seeing these “worldly, economic, political, social realities” in the light of God’s Word. It means we recognize them as part of the battle between St. Michael and Satan. We must choose because:
“You cannot serve both God and mammon.”
And so, we have listened to God’s word…We will profess our Faith and declare which side we are on…We will intercede for the suffering in Jesus’ name. We will bless the Lord God of all creation for how he has generously blessed us. We will remember how Jesus celebrated the Passover, of how God saved the Hebrews with “mighty hand and outstretch arm.” We celebrate how Jesus confronted sin and death, and rose in victory. We will pray at his table, be strengthened with his body and blood, and be sent back into battle as we are sent into the world to build the Kingdom of God.