GUARDIANS GIVEN TO ACCOMPANY US
Angels lead us to our true destiny: to behold the face of God
Fr Jean Galot, SJ
Science enables scholars more and more to understand that the material world is far richer than we imagine. The world of nature, in particular, has not ceased to reveal its secrets to us.
So why should it surprise us that the spiritual world is vaster and richer than we would have thought? Faith helps us discover this world, which is inaccessible to our senses. Its discovery demands great openness. Those who are sceptical about all invisible realities will be tempted to shrug their shoulders about what the Scriptures say of angels. However, Scripture retains its value as Revelation. The intervention of angels, in human life is frequently affirmed; the testimony of the Gospels confirms the truth of what was abundantly attested in the Old Testament.
Angels are present at the most important moments of Jesus' life: at the Annunciation, then at the Nativity; during the time he spent in the wilderness, in his prayer at Gethsemane, at the empty tomb to announce the Resurrection and, lastly, as a conclusion at the time of his Ascension, Indeed, Jesus himself emphasizes this presence of angels in the course of his public life: "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the
Son of man (Jn 1:51). These angels, who symbolically represent the union of heaven and earth, testify to the mystery of the Incarnation. Jesus likes to mention the angels who accompany the Son of man on his mission especially in gathering individuals into the Church (Mk 13:27) and
at the last judgement of all who enter the world to come (Mt 25:31,32).
Thus the Son of God expressly wished that the angels should participate in his earthly life and his saving mission. By asserting their presence, he confirmed the truth of the existence of angels and the value of their role in the work of salvation.
He especially wanted us to be accompanied by angels throughout our life, as he himself was. He let us understand that we are in the habitual company of angels when spoke of the "little ones", to show the esteem we must have for the lowliest beings: "See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven" (Mt 18:10). This warning is explained in the social context in which the doctors of the Law were given to scorning simple people whom they took to ignorant; even if they were not knowledgeable about the law, these "little ones" possessed a superior wisdom, thanks to their angels who contemplate the Father. However, the warning has a broader scope: because of the angels, no human being, however humble or poor, may be despised.
In using the expression "their angels", Jesus suggests that angels in some way belong to these "little ones", in keeping with their specific purpose which is to accompany them in their life as they have been made available to them. These are what the Christian faith calls "guardian angels". The expression is correct but too limited. The angels' role is not only to provide protection, but to help guide each individual to his true destiny.
Since they never cease to contemplate the face of the heavenly Father, angels cause a reflection of his divine light to penetrate the mind and conduct of every individual. Angels ensure that our behaviour is properly directed to the face of the Father who is the goal of our life.
This invites us to seek their help, so that this guidance may become more and more a part of our life.
Weekly Edition in English
1 October 1997, p. 4
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