Friday, October 2, 2009

"Now I lay me down to sleep..."

It’s no wonder I think about children when I think about Guardian Angels. In today’s gospel JESUS makes the connection for us:

See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven always
look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”

I can close my eyes and see the two ceramic angels that hung over the beds in the room I shared with my big sister. They were beautiful though without unique facial features. They looked a bit like children themselves except for the wings. I remember my mother telling me that they would keep me safe throughout the night.

Now that I am grown I don’t think about my angel anymore. I do think about my seven nieces and nephews, though. I believe their angels are on duty – ready to protect and comfort. But I am troubled by something in this gospel passage. JESUS is urging us to love and care for the children. That means that we are free to do the opposite. The evening news can force us to face this human reality. So, what does it mean when something horrific happens to a child? Does it mean that the Guardian Angel has too many to protect? A “caseload” too heavy to manage? Does it mean that the angels go off duty or get distracted? Do horrors happen when angels are "texting" each other and take their eyes from their precious charges? I don’t think so.

The belief in these beings is part of our Catholic tradition. They are created by GOD and the Lord JESUS tells us, in this passage, that they are both present to GOD and attentive to the children. I believe this to be true. When we read a novel like “The Lovely Bones,” or “The Shack,” we detect a theological truth beneath the fiction. Perhaps, we are compelled to read these books because they point to a GOD who is truly with us in every moment of human life - and death.

Horrific things do happen. Because we are free we can choose love or hate, peace or violence, life or death. I believe that when human freedom disrupts GOD’s plan for our good, the Guardian Angels are there. They are there when natural disasters hit and planes fall out of the sky (or into skyscrapers). They are there when soldiers fall and the criminally insane person take a precious human life. We are never alone.

There is just so much we cannot know about the passage through death. But what we know, we know because of Christ. The angels brought him comfort in his suffering and revealed to the disciples his resurrection. In this gospel JESUS tells us that they are and they are for us. When you watch the news tonight…remember and believe.

Blessings and love to you all…
- Sister Vicki