daily biblical sermons

Those that are humble and lowly in this world but devoted to God are especially protected by the angels
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Friday, the Memorial of The Holy Guardian Angels, October 02, 2020
Job 38:1, 12-21, 40:3-5, Psalm 138, Matthew 18:1-5, 10

Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted




“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven … 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’” (Matthew 18:1-4, 10).



Today is the memorial of The Holy Guardian Angels. The existence of angels is part of our Christian faith, and the Bible is full of angels from one end to the other, from Genesis to Revelation. The beginning of Jesus life was announced by an angel to his mother Mary, and when he was born, myriads of angels in festal array filled the night sky as they sang over the plains of Bethlehem, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men” (Luke 2:14 KJV). When Jesus rose from the dead and then ascended into heaven, again angels were his witnesses.



It is also a biblical belief that each person has his own guardian angel, as we see in today’s gospel, “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” (Matthew 18:10).



It is particularly those that turn and become like little children in their simplicity, humility, and love of God who will be especially guarded by the holy guardian angels. The vocation of an angel is to contemplate and glorify God and then bring messages from God to human beings, as the angel Gabriel was sent by God to the blessed Virgin Mary to announce that she would give birth to the Son of God, the Savior of the world.



How important it is in the Christian life to be humble before God as a little child is humble in this world. A child is naturally humble, because he looks at himself as a tiny creature in a world run by gigantic, powerful, strong, and intelligent adults; and so, he is humble by nature, when he realizes his lowly, powerless, and unimportant condition. This is what a Christian is to be like. We are to turn and be converted to become like children, not in age, but in our humility and simplicity. Jesus says today, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3-4).



How do we do this? How do we turn and become like children in humility? We do so by acknowledging our sinfulness and unworthiness as we look to Christ for our salvation (William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary (Thomas Nelson, 1989), page 1272). We are to see ourselves as fundamentally sinners who have turned to Christ in hope of salvation and put our faith in him so that God might justify us and reckon to us his own righteousness (Romans 4:5).



This is a humble attitude, for it does not depend on our own achievements or merits or worth or anything that we have earned ourselves by our good deeds and good works. We realize that without Christ’s redemptive work on the cross we would be lost sinners. We realize that it is only Christ’s merits on the cross in atoning for our sins that constitute us as a righteous people before God. We see that this has nothing to do with our own good deeds, but everything to do with Christ’s good deed on the cross to make reparation for our sins and suffer our death penalty for our sins for us so that we would not have to suffer it.



In this world of adults, little children do not consider themselves of any importance. If we are equally humble and poor, we will be great before God, because this is what God desires of us, that we be a people that are totally devoted to him, rather than to ourselves or to our own prestige, power, or wealth. To be oriented in this way, loving God with our whole heart and soul, mind and strength, and talking not of our own greatness, but rather of the service that we can render to others, helping them and bringing them to God is to be truly great.



Jesus says that a person that “humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4). It is such little ones in humility, not necessarily in age, that the angels especially guard and protect. Children possess to a very high degree this simplicity and humility. This is the posture that we need as we appear before God as weak and insignificant sinners seeking salvation from our sins and a new life in him.



This type of humility and simplicity is a new virtue not previously recognized by the Greeks or Romans. It is not a Greek or Roman virtue, but rather a Jewish and Christian virtue; and it is the virtue that admits us into the kingdom of God.



“‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ (Matthew 5:3). To all who are not such [,] the gate opens not. That virtue which was unknown to pagan antiquity, the opposite character to which was upholden as the acme of excellence, Christ here asserts to be the only passport to his ideal Church on earth or its eternal development in heaven. Not the self-esteeming, proud man of Aristotle’s worship, but the humble, the lowly, the self-deprecating, is the man who can realize his position in the spiritual world, and shall be admitted to its blessings and benefits” (Pulpit Commentary, 19th century).



The child has these characteristics by nature, since he looks around and sees how unimportant and powerless he is in a world of adults; but we Christians must make a choice to become this way. “Not that a child consciously humbles himself, but is humble by nature. The disciple must become that by deliberate choice which the child is by reason of his constitution and natural disposition” (Pulpit Commentary, emphasis added).



So, as we reflect on the holy guardian angels and their life of contemplating the face of God, let us seek to become more like children in humility and lowliness of heart before God, imitating the contemplative life of the angels in heaven.

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