Fr Euteneuer’s excellent story of St Michael the Archangel and how he gets his name.
Who Is Like Unto God?
Tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of the holy Archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. Each year, this feast gives us a golden opportunity to renew our friendship with the angels who are given for our spiritual benefit and are eager to assist us in our battle against the principalities and powers of the world of darkness. We need only to ask their assistance and their guidance on our way to heaven.
Let us take a moment to reflect on the glorious prince of the heavenly host, St. Michael the Archangel, the most potent of all God’s helpers. We start with his name: “Michael” is of Hebrew origin and, literally translated, means, “Who Is Like Unto God?” It is actually a composite of three little Hebrew words that form one phrase: “Mi” (pronounced “mee” and meaning “who?”); “cha” (pronounced “ka” and meaning “like”), and “el” (the Hebrew name for “God.”) The phrase, “Who is like unto God?” is not a statement about this angel being so close or similar to God – no one can claim that. Rather, it is a rhetorical question. It is what Michael uttered in his disbelief that someone would claim to be like God. That someone was another angel named Lucifer.
Tradition has it that Lucifer, the sublime Seraphim, ranked highest in the order of angels and proudly asserted that he wanted to “be like the Most High” (see Isaiah 14:14 for this). One faithful angel of a lower rank, unable to countenance the impudence of a creature thinking he were equal to God, courageously stood up in the divine assembly to defend the rights of God with a rebuke that issued from the depths of his being as a question something like: “And just who could possibly claim to be like God?” And so “Mi-cha-el” became his name.
Michael then cast Lucifer out of heaven with all his rebellious companions. No creature that rejects the sovereignty of God could ever remain in heaven. Michael is thus the defender of the rights of God and the one who manhandles the strongest of the demons. We have him to thank for showing us that proud Satan can actually be defeated and that the rights of God can be vindicated against all blasphemers.