Memorial of the Guardian Angels
Job 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23
Matthew 18:1-5, 10
As I write this reflection, I am finishing a month’s duty in Rome, as interpreter for our Passionist General Chapter. This morning, Sunday, I took a walk to the Vatican, and stopped at a Roman parish church for Mass. There were about 40 Scouts present for mass, most of them around 10 years of age.
This Sunday gospel was about millstones around the neck and being tossed into the sea, lopping off hands or feet, and plucking out eyes. Faced with the young Scouts, the celebrant of the Sunday Mass must have felt a little like Job in today’s reading. There are some frightfully tragic realities in our world, and many times, they involve the innocent and the young. Being a child in many countries exposes children to hunger, thirst, warfare, exploitation, illiteracy, and chronic illness.
How does one reconcile belief in a loving Creator, who sent his Only Begotten Son for our Salvation, with the power of evil in our lives and in our world?
The story of Job is a "story", a drama in poetry that begins with a cosmic debate between God and Satan. Job is a faithful man, and clutches onto his fundamental belief in God’s providence, come what may. The relevance for today’s Memorial celebration is not quoted in the selected passage, but lies in the sixteenth chapter, verses 18-21. There, Job expresses his confidence that he will be justified by an advocate who will plead his cause before God. "Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high." (Job 16:19). This intercessory role, not the role of Savior, but of intermediacy, is what the Church celebrates in its celebration of "Guardian Angels."
Against that Old Testament belief, we can read the New Testament passage from Matthew. There Jesus connects the care that children need, their innocence and their closeness to God, with their "advocates", the Angels in heaven.
Whether or not we consider Scouting a timely environment for raising our children, the investment of time and talents which it represents is a response to the Gospel’s appeal that we look after the good of our children. So are athletic programs, and after-school activities. Let us not forget time spent together at home, with one another and not in front of an electronic diversion. Youth activities at Church could benefit from greater parishioner support and creative energy. When it comes time to make your political decisions at the ballot box, think about your vote as a statement of your commitment to help children and their families to be less insecure and more confident that ours is a Godly nation.
Fr. Arthur Carrillo, C.P. is the director of the Office of Mission Effectiveness for Holy Cross Province. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.