Wednesday October 2, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Exodus 23:20-23) Gospel (St. Matthew 18:1-5, 10)
In the Gospel reading today, we hear Our Lord telling us about the guardian angels of the little children. People tend to think about guardian angels when they think of children. There is that beautiful holy card with the little child trying to cross the rickety old bridge and the angel standing right there. We put little angel pictures above babies' cribs and then we forget all about angels once the babies are not babies anymore. But our angels do not forget about us - Thanks be to God!
Each and every one of us has a guardian angel, and each and every one of us needs to get to know our guardian angel. Our angel is a gift from the Lord. He is there to guard us; He is there to lead us. Our angels, as we read in the Gospel, are looking at God face-to-face at all times. And so, your angel, even though he is right here with you, is beholding the face of God and honoring and glorifying the Lord. He is praying for you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; because he is an angel, he does not get tired so he can do that constantly. And he is right there with you.
Our Lord told us, as He told the Israelites in the first reading from the Book of Exodus, that we need to heed His voice and we need to obey Him. Now the problem is that most of us totally forget that we have an angel right there. Not only do we not heed his voice, we do not even try to listen for it because we pay no attention to the fact that our angel is there, or we forget totally about it. But our angels are there.
An angel is a messenger sent from God and he is there to help us, to guard us, and to lead us, as I mentioned, as he led the Israelites out through the desert and into the Promised Land. The Lord tells us in the first reading: "He will bring you to the Hittites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Jebusites … and I will wipe them out." What your guardian angel is going to do is lead you to all those areas of sin in your life. He will bring you to those areas to deal with and God will wipe those things out. The enemies of your soul are what God is concerned about. He wants to bring you into The Promised Land - which is Heaven, and anything which is going to keep you from that, God wants to get rid of. Your angel is going to help you with that, but we need to listen to him and we need to obey him.
This is something that we need to get very firmly into our minds because I personally believe the day is coming, and rather soon, that the work of the holy angels is going to become extraordinary in the world. When we look, for instance, at the Book of Revelation, we see on every single page the angels doing their work. When there are tough times, when things get messy, that is when we are going to really need to rely upon the angels. The time is not very far ahead when that is going to happen, and the angels are going to need to communicate for us; the angels are going to need to be bringing things between one another and it is the way we are going to be able to operate. The enemies of our souls will have absolutely no authority over them because they have chosen evil, but your angel is looking at God.
The wonderful thing to consider with your guardian angel is that, because he is right there, you really have nothing to fear. By nature, your angel may even be far lower than Satan - Satan being the highest of all the angels created; but Satan has fallen from grace. Your guardian angel, on the other hand, made an act of faith and said "yes" to God, said "yes" to serve. Your angel is in grace. Your angel is looking at God. And because of grace, your angel, though lower than Satan by nature, is higher than Satan and more powerful than Satan by grace.
Now one can wonder why, if we have a guardian angel, things still happen that are not what we consider very good. If he is supposed to be protecting us and guarding us, why does the devil seem to have the authority that he has? God allows that for our good, for our purification, for our strengthening, and so on. So it is not because your guardian angel is asleep on the job or not doing what he should. Your guardian angel will be right there with you to help you know how to handle the situation - once again, if you turn to him. We should be praying to our angels regularly. We should be carrying on conversations with our angel throughout the day, asking for help. He is not going to force himself upon you. He is right there 24 hours a day doing work that you will absolutely never know until you get to Heaven. But still, he will not force himself upon you; in his humility, he will wait for you to ask. He will do things when it is necessary, certainly, but he will wait for you to ask for help. You need to remember that he is there and you need to ask him. That is what we have to be about.
God has given us an extraordinary gift in giving us an angel. Just think about his humility. We have Satan, on one hand, who says, "I will not serve!" You have your guardian angel, on the other hand, who says "yes" to God, enters into the glory of eternity in Heaven, and then says "yes" again to God to come down to be with us, to guard us, the little speck of dust that we are. Your angel beholds God face-to-face and then has the humility to come to be with us for the duration of our lives - and even to be with us in Purgatory if that is where we have to go. Our angels are extraordinary. They are humble, and in that humility they have power. They have a power that will help us to overcome Satan and all his minions.
This is the gift that God has given, and we need to acknowledge the gift. But not just acknowledge it generically and say, "Oh yeah, I believe in angels and I know I have a guardian angel," but to acknowledge it by living it, by living our lives in union with our angels so that we, through them, can be worshiping God constantly, that through them we will be able to hear the Word of God. We will hear His voice and obey Him.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.