Saint Michael is one of the seven Arch angels who stand before God, and is honored for defeating the Devil and his angles in heaven after they rebelled against God (Rev.12:7-9). When the faithful falls in Satan’s temptation, they call the name of this angle and are always victorious over him.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church celebrates the Feast of St. Michael on 12th day of each month of which two are great annual feasts of the saint: on Hidar 12 (November 21) and Senie 12 (June 19).The feast on June 19 is dedicated to “the deliverance of Bahiran from the hand of the wicked rich man" through the help of St Michael as stated in the Ethiopic Synaxarium. (Senie 12, pp. 567-569). The concise story goes as follows:
There was a certain man who feared God, and who used to celebrate St Michael’s feast on the12th day of each month, and especially during the months of Hedar and Senie. A rich man in the neighborhood used to despise and ridiculed this God-fearing man for celebrating St Michael’s feasts.
When the God-fearing man approaches to his death, he commanded his wife to keep on the celebration of St Michael’s feasts. The woman was pregnant when her husband passed away. The woman suffered terrible pain during labor and she delivered through the help of St. Michael. When she brought forth a child, St Michael came down from heaven, blessed the child, and prophesied about the future fate of the child saying, “This child shall inherit all the possessions and land of the rich man.” At that moment God opened the ear of the rich man and was heard what the angel said. Then great sorrow came upon him, and he wanted to kill the child. But God protected the child through the intercession of St Michael.
When the child was ten years old, his mother’s money came to an end, and the rich man found his opportunity against the woman. And he requested a woman to minister her child at the wage of twenty dinars in gold. Then the woman gave her son to the rich man. The man rejoiced with a great joy, and said in his heart, “Behold what I have desired is fulfilled for me.
Then he made a wooden box which fit the size of the boy and crammed him into the box and threw the box in to a river. However, the box floated on the surface of the river by the grace of God until it came to the quay of a certain city. A shepherd nearby saw the box and pulled it out and took it to his home. When the Shepherd unlocked the box, he found a smart boy crammed in the box. He named him ‘Bahran’ because he found him in the river; the boy became to him as his son.
Years later, the rich man wished to go and sojourn with the shepherd, and when the sun was about to set he said unto the shepherd, “If you provide me with a place to rest in until tomorrow, I will pay you the charge.” The shepherd welcomed the rich man into his house, and he called the boy “Bahran” by his name. When the rich man heard the name, he asked the shepherd whether Bahiran was his son. The shepherd replied “Yes, I found this young man when he was a little boy in a box in the river, and I took him and reared him as my son.” Upon hearing that, the rich man was very sorry in his heart, because he knew that the young man was the boy whom he had thrown into the river to kill him.
The following day, with an evil plot in mind, the rich man asked his host to allow him to send Bahiran with a message to his house in his home city claiming that he had forgotten something at home. He promised to pay twenty dinars of gold for the errand. The shepherd was agreed with the rich man to send to his house. Then the rich man wrote a letter to his steward, saying, “When you have read this letter, kill the bearer of it, whose name is ‘Bahran,’ and cast his body into a pit. Let no one know about this until I come in peace”; he wrote on the letter a certain sign which they had agreed upon, and which none but the rich man and his steward knew. He sealed the letter and gave it to Bahran. He also handed him the money needed for the journey, and the young man departed.
As Bahiran was about to reach at the house of the rich man , behold one day the angel of God, Michael, came to him in the guise of a soldier riding a horse; and he said to Bahran, “What do you have with you?” when Bahran told him about the letter, the angel asked to see it. Bahran has shown the letter in distant being frightened and the angel blew on the paper, erasing what was written on it. Immediately, the thought of the letter was changed this way, “Behold, I the rich man have sent unto you the bearer of this letter whose name is Bahran. As soon as you have read this letter, let him marry my daughter and take over all my possessions. Do not wait until I come back, for I shall tarry on my journey. Let him do what he wishes in my house, for I have given him authority over all my belongings. Here is the sign which is between you and me, O my steward.”
Then the angel sealed the letter, gave it to Bahran and Bahiran keep on his journey devotedly. When Bahran had reached at the house of the rich man, he gave the letter to his steward. When the steward read the letter and recognized the mark, and knew that it was authentic. They immediately made a great marriage-feast for Bahran and the daughter of the rich man, and they married them in the church, before the sanctuary of God; the couple enjoyed their wedding season for forty days.
Towards the end of the marriage-feast the rich man returned to his city, and when he heard the sound of the music, he asked, saying, “What is this sound which I hear?” People told him the whole story about the letter and that Bahiran and his wife took control of all his possessions. When the rich man heard these words, he cried out at the top of his voice, fell down and died. Bahran inherited all his money as God had commanded. The young man celebrated St Michael’s feast on the 12th day of each month, knowing that it was he who had appeared to him and changed the letter.
Dear brothers and sisters, God changed the letter of death to the letter of life and vice versa for nothing is impossible with God. God has an unconditional authority at bringing good out of bad. The things you wish might be removed from your life are often the very things that God is using to shape and change you into the character of good believer He wants you to be. He wants to use that problem for good in your life. There’s something more important than your pain. It’s what you’re learning from that pain.
Glory to God!!
• Ethiopic Syanaxarium, (Senie 12, pp.567-569).
• Homily of St. Michael (Ge’ez and Amharic), 1989.