Angel of God My Guardian Dear
- Reading I: Job 19:21-27
- Resp. Psalm: Psalm 27:2-9,13-14
- Gospel Reading: Matthew 18:1-5,10
"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."
It is interesting that a text that has been used by the Church as a basis for the belief in guardian angels is, in Matthew, associated with the text about spiritual childhood. The Christian is called "little one" by Jesus not only because he/she is "little" compared to him (the big brother) or because in the he/she is among the weak and powerless, but also because, the "little one" puts him/herself in the arms of God’s Providence. It is this dependence on Divine Providence (see Matthew 5-7) which justifies Matthew’s addition here of the saying about the angels of the little ones constantly in the presence of God.
The Book of Tobit is also another source for the belief in guardian angels. Here it is Rafael who accompanies Tobias in an arduous journey that brought this latter wealth, love and a medicine for his blind father.
The late John Paul II1 spoke about the ministry of angels towards "those who possess salvation" in these words
According to Revelation, the angels who participate in the life of the Trinity in the light of glory are also called to play their part in the history of the salvation of man, in the moments established by divine Providence "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to possess salvation?,” asks the author of the Letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 1:14).
This is believed and taught by the Church, on the basis of Sacred Scripture, from which we learn that the task of the good angels is the protection of people and solicitude for their salvation.
We find these experiences in various passages of Sacred Scripture, like for example, Ps. 90 which has already been quoted several times: "He will give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone" (Psalm 90:11-12). Jesus Himself, speaking of children and warning against giving them scandal, refers to "their angels" (Matthew 18:10). Besides this, He attributes to the angels the function of witnesses in the last divine judgement about the fate of those who have acknowledged or denied Christ: "Whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man likewise will acknowledge him before the angels of God, but whoever denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God" (Luke 12:8-9; cf. Revelation 3:5).
These words are significant because, if the angels take part in the judgement of God, then they are interested in the life of man. This interest and participation seem to be accentuated in the eschatological discourse, in which Jesus has the angels appear in the Parousia, that is, in the definitive coming of Christ at the end of history ( cf. Mt. 24.31; 25:31-41).
Among the books of the New Testament, it is especially the Acts of the Apostles that show us some facts that bear witness to the solicitude of the angels for man and for his salvation.
Thus the angel of God liberates the Apostles from the prison (cf Acts 5:18-20 and first of all Peter, when he was threatened with death at the hands of Herod (cf. Acts 12:5-10). Or he guides the activity of Peter with regard to the centurion Cornelius, the first pagan to be converted (Acts 10:3-8,11:1-12), and analogously the activity of the deacon Philip along the road from Jerusalem to Gaza (Acts 8:26-29).
From these few facts which we have cited as examples, we understand how the Church could come to the conviction that God has entrusted to the angels a ministry in favor of people Therefore the Church confesses her faith in the guardian angels, venerating them in the liturgy with an appropriate feast and recommending recourse to their protection by frequent prayer, as in the invocation "Angel of God." This prayer seems to draw on the treasure of the beautiful words of St. Basil: "Every one of the faithful has beside him an angel as tutor and pastor, to lead him to life"’ 2.
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