OCTOBER 2. Feast of the Angels. Mt 18. 1-5, 10
The disciples came to Jesus and said, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ So he called a little child to him and set the child in front of them. Then he said, ‘I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
‘Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.’
(Today’s Gospel is for the Holy Guardian Angels, who are with each of us on life’s journey!)
Let’s be honest; - today’s question from the disciples of Jesus is not unreasonable! Who is “at the top of the tree” in the Kingdom of Heaven? Obviously, the answer would be God himself, but of the ordinary people who enter into heaven, who would be first in God’s eyes?
And I think Christ himself saw the question as reasonable, so he decided to answer it in a very clear way! He called a child to him and gave his reply; - “I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven!”
Notice he went well beyond who would be first. He converted the question from “being first” to “entering the Kingdom of Heaven!” – “the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven!”
The disciples wanted to know who would be first in the Kingdom! Now they know! The one who makes himself like a little child!
One of the marks of a little child is that they have no ambitions; - they are happy and content being “as they are,” their only desire, and their happiness, is to be found in the love of their parents and friends!
This is a powerful reply to a simple question; - do not have ambitions; - be content with the Love of God that is the source of your creation; - and the gifts and circumstances he decided to bestow on you when you were created!
Notice how there is little difference between “little children” be they living in the most affluent of suburbs in the richest country; - or in the poorest of countries in the third world!
The reason? They are content with what they have, and there is no sign of ambition or discontent. At the centre of their lives, be they rich or poor, is the love and security they experience from their family and friends.
And Christ makes one final point about each and every child; - no matter their life circumstances; - “See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.’
They each have a guardian angel in heaven; - the feast of whom we are celebrating today!
Gospel Acclamation Ps102:21
Bless the Lord, all you angels,
his ministers who do his will.
First reading Exodus 23:20-23 I myself will send an angel before you
The Lord says this: ‘I myself will send an angel before you to guard you as you go and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Give him reverence and listen to all that he says. Offer him no defiance; he would not pardon such a fault, for my name is in him. If you listen carefully to his voice and do all that I say, I shall be enemy to your enemies, foe to your foes. My angel will go before you.’