Growing up, St. Michael never cropped up in a sermon I heard or a catechism class I attended. Still, his name had the ring of familiarity to it, leading me to thumb through notes from an art history course I once took. Eureka! I located the symbols associated with Michael: dragons, the scales of justice and lists of names.
I didn’t remember him, but Michael appears in both the Old and New Testaments. In Daniel (chapter 10), he comes to the aid of the Jewish people as they fight against the Persians. In Revelation (chapter 12), Michael and the heavenly host boot Satan, disguised as a dragon, and his rebellious angels out of heaven.
During the Jewish High Holy Days, God is said to pass judgment on his people, inscribing the names of those who have repented of their sins in the Book of Life. Jesus’ followers, as observant Jews, would have recognized the allusion. By the time Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, we find Michael writing the names of the blessed in a slim book and the names of the damned in a thicker one.
Thanks to Jesus, our names are written in heaven. Amen. — CKA