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 | By Sister Ann Shields

Lectio Divina - Praying Through the Year With Scripture

Oct. 2 Gospel: Memorial of the Guardian Angels

The disciples approached Jesus and said,

"Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?"

He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said,

"Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,

you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.

Whoever humbles himself like this child

is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.

And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

"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." Mt 18:1-5, 10

At the beginning of Chapter 18 in Matthew’s Gospel, the disciples are asking Jesus who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Are some jockeying for position – for favor? Jesus uses this vulnerable moment among his followers to call a small child into the middle of the crowd. In Jesus’ day, children had no place, no recognition in society, and yet Jesus tells them that these little ones have a place in Jesus’ heart and in the heart of his Father. It is not the will of the heavenly Father that any one of them should perish. Each person – child or adult – is infinitely loved by our Father. As we recite in the responsorial psalm for this Memorial of the Guardian Angels: “The Lord has put angels in charge of you, to guard you in all your ways.” (Ps 91:11)

The second important lesson in these verses is this: All of us have to battle the sin of pride. We all want to be recognized, chosen, praised, invited – especially in public. We can be easily wounded when someone is given recognition or a reward, especially when we think we should be the recipient. The apostles in these verses are not so different from us. Jesus’ solution is to train our eyes and our hearts to focus on the needs of others – to offer respect, kindness and mercy, as well as compliments, rewards and recognition for the good things others have done. The fruit is that you think about yourself less and, as a result, you can serve others so much better because your mind is being filled with “the things of God.” Teach by your example. The more you do, the more you will draw closer to the Lord.

It is a battle each of us has to fight each day. But it is a battle worth fighting. Jesus served us in his earthly life, first of all, by loving us and showing us the way to eternal happiness. He gave his life that we might have life forever. Jesus calls us to follow him by imitating his humility. His care for others was paramount in his earthly life in the way he showed everyone the truth and demonstrated boundless mercy.

Read the Gospel again, and reflect on these questions:

  • Does God occupy the place of being first in my thoughts as I make important decisions in my life?
  • Are my values Godly ones or are my values mainly the values of the world?
  • Do I genuinely care for other people or, if I am honest, do I relate to people mainly for what I can get out of the relationship?
  • Do I avoid children or the poor and needy, or do I see them with the love God has for them and reach out to serve them?

There is a world of difference between the “glasses” the world wears and those which God uses. What type of glasses do we wear? How can I change? Perhaps start with one person/child and ask God to teach you how to love with his love. God will answer that prayer.

Finally, think honestly of where you are right now and ask God for greater faith and for the grace to change. Ask God every day for the grace to put him first, others second and yourself third. You will be surprised at the ways in which, over time, he will answer your request.