As the Feast of the Archangels winds down, it is opportune to note that Revelation 12 describes the heart of the faith, the apocalyptic contest that Jesus and Mary-Church wage and win by endurance, including in particular the mystery of justification.
The defeat of our Adversary, the Satan, who as we see in Job (1:6-12) accuses us before the Father in the heavenly court, means our justification. The Father will not let the cynical version of your life win out as long as we surrender all efforts to justify ourselves, and find our justification in Jesus and His Spirit, our Advocate, and the hosts they deploy on our behalf:
Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (Rev. 12:7-9)
This victory means our justification, and it is the justification of sinners that constitutes the Kingdom:
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the Accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.” (12:10)
Luther was not incorrect in seeing justification as the heart of Christianity. It is. In our lives, we either side with the Father’s idea of us, expressed and secured in Jesus, or with our own or the world’s parody of us—that grotesque effigy we conjure every time we defect from reality.
The Father’s idea (the logos in His Logos) of you is eternal; before the foundation of the world, He dreamed you up to be a very particular saint. Our lives are an apocalyptic contest between dueling narratives about who we are. (I believe this to be the point of Hawthorne’s powerful and disturbing short story, “Young Goodman Brown.”) On the one hand, a deep sense of unworthiness often coincides with habits of self-justification; on the other, there are those epiphanies of love, directly from the Trinity or through another person, which give us a glimpse of what worth is created in us when we receive true love.
Saint Michael, defend us in battle!