Reflection 29th September 2019

A Reflection for the Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Lk: 16: 19-31  ( ) 

The Feast of Michael the Archangel 

Have you ever listened to a child talking about his or her guardian angel? I have.

During my recent vacation in Sierra Leone, I went to celebrate Mass one morning. I was getting ready when a boy aged 9 came into the sacristy with an infectious smile. I smiled back, nodded. and we shook hands. 'Michael is my name, and you?' I said to him. 'Michael', he said. 'We have two Michaels here this morning', I said, washing my hands. 'But one guardian angel, Michael the Archangel', he retorted. As he took the towel from me, I thanked him, saying nothing about angels.

I stood still, in silence, thinking of my homily. Then I saw him take from his pocket a piece of paper, with drawings on it. He showed it to me, saying, 'this is Michael, the Archangel, and this is me. He looks after me wherever I am.'

'Very good,' I said. When I die he will take me to God,' he said as he put back the paper into his pocket. He paused. He was silent and so was I. But he was obviously waiting for me to say something.  Sensing in the tone of his voice the strength of his belief in his guardian angel, I remained silent. Thoughts of stories about angels in the Bible flooded my mind.

After Mass I invited Michael to breakfast; 'Thank you', he said; declining. 'Next time, because I want to be in time for class.' We shook hands again and he went away.

Alone at breakfast that morning I began to reflect on that brief encounter. I recalled that Michael was cheerful before Mass but then became very quiet and looked rather sad. Did I say or do something that upset him. 

While pondering these questions here is one thing that I learned then and will never forget. It might be useful and somehow relevant to our commemoration of the Feast of Michael the Archangel.

I believe angels exist but I have never asked them for help. I am certain that my young friend, Michael, was able to sense this. Why and how? I did not say much about angels to him. But what little I said was enough. Because there is a saying, 'people may hear your words but they feel your attitude'. (John C. Maxwell).

John Michael Fillie C.S.Sp. – Fr. Fillie is from the Mende tribe of Sierra Leone and from his country’s Diocese of Bo. After studies in Kimmage Manor, he returned to Sierra Leone to work in a teacher-training college. He is currently engaged in hospital chaplaincy in Dublin.