The Feast of the Guardian Angels

Matthew 18: 1-5, 10
Ex 23:20-23 / Ps 91

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.
(Matthew 18:10)

Dear Guardian Angel, be my guide
That I may never be misled;
Please always be here at my side,
Protect me in the paths I tread.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst of them, and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; 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. (Matthew 18: 1-5, 10)

Reflection

There are many passages in the Bible confirming the existence of angels, who serve as “messengers from heaven”, and protectors of God’s followers. Although the concept of a ‘guardian angel’ assigned to every Christian has not been a definitive doctrine of the Catholic Church, this passage in Matthew 18:10 has been commonly cited by theologians to support this idea. Another verse we can cite is Psalm 91:11: “God commands the angels to guard you in all your ways.” The writer of Hebrews, 1:14 also said: “Are they (angels) not all ministering spirits sent to serve, for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” This inspired St. Jerome to say: “how great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it.” St. Basil the Great taught that “each and every member of the faithful has a guardian angel to protect, guard and guide them through life.” St. Bernard of Clarivaux, who promoted devotion to the guardian angels, cited them as proof “that heaven denies us nothing that assists us”, therefore, “these celestial spirits have been placed at our sides to protect us, instruct us and to guide us.”

My parents were firm believers in the protection of their guardian angels. Once, on a tour in Hawaii, the car that they hired went over a cliff. It landed in the branches of a large tree that had grown on the side of the cliff. They went back to their hotel with nary a scratch. My father was a guerilla fighter during the Japanese occupation, and later on served as the first chief of police in Davao after the war. He had the uncanny confidence that nothing harmful could befall him, even riding logs down a river in his early years in the timber business. That was how he earned from his employees the monicker Phantom. But it was his faith in God’s protection that made him believe that his guardian angel was always there to keep him safe.

In the first reading, God told His Chosen People, “Behold, I send an angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place which I have prepared. Give heed to him and hearken to his voice, do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my authority resides in him” (Ex. 23:20-21).

As faithful followers of Christ, today’s short Gospel passage gives us the peace of mind and confidence that in facing difficult situations, we can be “trusting little ones” that the Lord guides and protects through the ministry of His holy angels.

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love entrusts you here; ever this day be at my side to light and guard, to rule and guide. Father God, thank You for keeping me safe and free from evil with the presence of my guardian angel. Amen.

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