Matthew 18:1-5, 10
Today’s feast of the Guardian Angels points to a surprising intersection between ancient belief and a central feature of modern, popular spirituality. In the contemporary religious scene, angels are definitely "in", as TV shows, websites and blogs, pins and T-shirts indicate. What are we to make of this?
For one thing, this popular focus on angels tells us that, even in our seemingly secular culture, people experience divine presence and activity. There is a mysterious, positive power that is felt and ‘seen’; it is found active in all dimensions of human existence. Popular belief is echoing the Gospel story – God is for real and is active in our world.
And, popular attraction to angels is focused on our need for protection. Life is sometimes tough, unkind or cruel; we need more security than we can muster by ourselves. Here, contemporary spiritual experience is catching up with the meaning of today’s feast.
In both Old and New Testaments, God’s provident care and compassion is often expressed through the activity of angels. An angel protects the three young men cast into the fiery furnace (Dan. 3:49); an angel counsels Joseph to protect Mary and the Infant Jesus (Mt 2:13); an angel supports Jesus himself in his garden agony (Luke 22:43); an angel frees Peter from prison (Acts 12:6 ff). And these examples just scratch the surface!
May today’s celebration deepen our trust in God’s protective compassion. Let us live in the conviction that our lives and destiny are cloaked in God’s invincible love.
Fr. Jim Thoman, C.P. is the Director of St. Paul of the Cross Passionist Retreat Center, Detroit, Michigan.