Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Tuesday word, 02 Oct 2007

Guardian Angels (02 Oct 2007) Zechariah 8. 20-23; Ps 87; Mt 18. 1-6,10
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Model Angels

That beings are present in two realms, the world and in the realm of the divine, is very ancient. It’s much older than the bible. In the tradition of Israel, the spirits God charged to protect humans have been named guardian angels.

They, like all angels, minister before the Trinity. and also minister by accompanying people during their lives. We may never be aware of their presence although we might become aware of some of the effects of their presence to us.

Guardian angels, I suggest, also model how we are to act, especially toward little ones. Little ones, as we heard Jesus use it in the gospel, are not only small in stature or young in years. Little ones are also the least among us and the least anywhere: as long as you did it to one of these least ones, you did it to me, Jesus reminded people who couldn’t figure how they had encountered their Lord without seeing him./1/

All Jesus’ words in this chapter of the first gospel address the inner life of the church, the way believers are to be with and toward each other. We are to receive the least not scandalize/2/ them; nor are we to despise them. Our active concern for them also seeks to nourish and cultivate their faith. Can you imagine a guardian angel not doing that? Angels guard not only our bodies. Angels guard our spirits: our interior lives; our desire to respond willingly to Jesus.

Because greatness is measured by smallness each of us is a little one. To become like children means to become more and more dependent on our Savior Jesus, his Father and their Holy Spirit. That is always a challenge, which makes us more and more in need of divine assistance in every way we receive it. Jesus, our model of faith, reminds us that divine assistance is also given so that we may become clearer models to and for each other.

/1/ See Matthew 25.31-46.
/2/ Verse 6, which speak of this, was not included in the lectionary reading of the gospel selection. Yet, it is integral to Jesus’ instruction to his disciples in each age.
Wiki-image of an 18th century oil-painting is in the public domain.

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