HOMILY MONDAY FOR MEMORIAL OF THE GUARDIAN ANGELS 2017 DEACON ANDREW THOMAS
There is an illustration that Norman Rockwell painted back on September 25, 1954, titled, "Breaking Home Ties." It shows a father, who is a rancher, with his son, waiting for the train that will take his son to college.
Of course the son is wide-eyed and alert, wearing his best suit, anticipating this new adventure he will experience. While the father, in his dirty ranchers outfit, is slumped down, smoking a cigarette. He's not outwardly showing his sadness to his son, but just by his body language, the viewer knows that this is a very difficult time for him.
And it is the dog in the painting, that seems to truly express the father's feelings which are hidden to the son, as he drapes his head over the son's left thigh. Feeling sad. Many of you have experienced the difficulty of sending a son or daughter off to college. One part of the sadness most probably is the worry one feels, not sure whether or not one's son or daughter will be okay.
There are many challenges that young men and women face going to college, such as the intense academic competition, the high cost of tuition, and the lack of morality on college campuses that might lead them astray. Lead them away from the Church.
The memorial of the guardian angels today should be a comfort to us. None of us travels alone. And when our children leave our houses, whether it's at a sleep over at a friend's house, or they go off to live and work in another state, they are never alone. Their guardian angels are given a mission by God to watch over them and protect them.
But how often do we pray to our guardian angels for assistance? Or pray to another's guardian angel to protect a family member or friend? For some of us, we may be in the habit of doing so quite often. For many of us, we forget at times because our guardian angel is never physically visible to us, for angels are pure spirits, so we don't even think to pray for our guardian angel's intercession. After all, angels are mysterious.
Today's Gospel from Matthew is one of the important proof texts for the existence of guardian angels. :"Do not despise these little children. Their angels in heaven always look upon the face of the heavenly Father."
All of us our God's children. All of us have guardian angels that watch over us and protect us from evil.
The Book of Tobit displays most perfectly the Jewish Tradition regarding the belief in the intercession of guardian angels.
In this book, Tobit sets his son, Tobias, out on a journey to Media to retrieve some money he has in a trust, for he is preparing for his death, and wants his son to benefit from the money he has saved for him.
And Tobit gives his son good advice before he sets out on the journey.
Tobit gives his son holy advice, the same advice we ought to give our children going off to college such as:
1.) Honor your mother. 2.) Through all your days, son, keep the Lord in mind, and do not seek to sin or to transgress the commandments. 3.) Be on your guard, son, against every kind of fornication. 4.) Do not drink wine till you become drunk or let drunkenness accompany you on your way.
Good advice for the college student!
And we know that the archangel Raphael accompanies Tobias throughout his journey, protecting him from evil. Raphael's intercession is the result of an answered prayer.
Our prayers for our children too are answered. And there is an entire celestial hierarchy that serves God, of whom we can ask for intercession for our needs. Nine choirs of angels, at our disposal, serving God. Let's be humble enough to ask for help!
But the reality is this. No matter how much we pray, our children also have to be open and be in a humble disposition, as mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew, to allow God to guide them.
Our children can block the graces that God wants to give them, if they willingly choose a life of sin, and willingly decide to disobey God's commandments.
We cannot force our intentions and beliefs on anyone's will, even our children. If God can't do it, we can't either!
And when our children choose a life of sin, it doesn't necessarily mean that we have done a bad job as parents. Regardless, though, we need to keep praying. And the guardian angels can be great intercessors because they are always with them.
We should never cease praying. Never cease hoping.
And he's got legions of angels at His disposal to help all of us on our journey to salvation. For He says in our first reading from Zechariah:
"Thus says the Lord of Hosts: Even if this should seem impossible, I will rescue my people." With God's grace, all of us can be saved.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!