The Holy Guardian Angels – Readings

Commentary on Exodus 23:20-23; Psalm 90; Matthew 18:1-5,10

Coincidentally, the Gospel reading for today is the same as yesterday’s for the feast of St Therese of Lisieux (unless her feast falls on a Sunday). The emphasis on St Therese’s feast was on the childlike qualities of Therese. There, Jesus was saying that true greatness only comes to those who in a spirit of complete docility and trust submit themselves totally to the will of their Father in heaven.

Today the focus is more on Jesus’ statement at the end of the reading where he says:

Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven.

The meaning is that those considered as of least consequence – children, the poor, the marginalised – are all very special in God’s eyes and, through their angels, can be sure of God’s loving concern.

The First Reading is from the Book of Exodus. It comes from a long passage of commandments covering a wide range of issues which Yahweh gave to the Israelites. This happened after Moses had gone up Mount Sinai and spoken face to face with Yahweh. The passage, beginning with chapter 20, starts with the giving of the Ten Commandments. These are then followed by a long list of instructions on how the Israelites are to behave.

Towards the end of Yahweh’s words (in chapter 23) we have the short passage which is today’s reading. It is a promise of God’s protection for his people as they continue their long and dangerous journey through the desert on their way to the Promised Land:

I am going to send an angel in front of you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared.

It is the promise of Yahweh’s protection over his people. But they are warned to listen to the voice of the angel; there will be no forgiveness for their failure to obey, because Yahweh’s authority resides in his angel.

But, if they follow Yahweh’s angel in everything:

…then I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes.

Their angel will go before them and will help them defeat the various peoples – Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites – who will try to prevent them reaching the goal promised them by God.

Today, we pray that God’s ever-loving protection will be always with us and that he will guide us on the right paths. Help us always to follow the paths shown to us by Jesus our Lord.

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