St. Michael the Archangel is my patron saint, and I have loved him for as long as I can remember. In true Catholic geek form, I dressed as an angel for Halloween in Kindergarten, and spent my time chasing a friend who dressed like a devil so that I could “fight him like St. Michael did.”
Although I understood that St. Michael fought the devil (and won), I didn’t fully understand how he did that until I was much older. I was fascinated with name meanings as a child, and I remember looking up the meaning of the name Michele and reading that it meant, “Who is like God.” I would tease my sister (who was named for St. Francis of Assisi) saying, “Well, my name means that I am like God.”
It wasn’t until many years later that I realized that what my name meant was a question, not a statement. The meaning of Michael/Michele/Michelle is a question, “Who is like God?” Lucifer, who started out as a great angel, refused to serve God, and decided that he wanted to be greater than God. Michael, also a great and powerful angel refuted him by asking, “Who is like God?” Unspoken, Michael implies the answer, “Certainly not me. I shall never be as great as He.”
Michael’s greatness is not what makes him great. He is not great because he is an archangel, and he did not defeat the devil by the power of his own greatness. What makes St. Michael so great is his humility. He knows that he is an archangel, yet he also knows that he is less than God. He knows his place in God’s plan, and he gladly embraces his place. He does not desire to be greater than he is, and he certainly doesn’t desire to be greater than God.
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