September 29 is the AFL Grand Final, and it’s Michaelmas. It’s the great day for courageous warriors. Here on earth one football team vanquishes another in suburban warfare. There’s fist-pumping jubilation on one side and heads bowed in anguish on the other; that’s straightforward.
In the other-worldly realm Archangel Michael vanquishes the mythical dragon-devil. But behind the usual dramatic picture of ‘war in heaven’ there’s far more than meets the eye. The fighting images have externalized a deep and personal truth. This war continually takes place in us.
When Archangel Michael, a mighty spirit, wields the sword, it represents the strong backbone of our own human spirit that overcomes the dross of our lower nature. This is the dragon and it lives in us. It’s all the resentful, fearful, quarrelsome, judgemental thoughts and acts that set us against the world.
Yet when we take hold of the sword of Michael it becomes our courage to stand firm as a new kind of warrior, one who rises above the lower self, who defends truth by being true, who speaks truth gently and clearly, who honours the struggle in others, who works not to oppose and win but to encourage.
A football game is over in a flash. The immediate surge of passion passes, and then warriors take time to embrace their ‘foes’. In this formalised war, an opportunity has been deliberately included for players to respond in recognition of mutual striving.
It’s a moment played out on the ground and on myriad screens. Some will respond to it warmly. Others may unconsciously feel it – that moment of real connection revealing the truth of Archangel Michael. This truth lives in every such expression of genuine humanity.