27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fr. Anthony Brankin
Gospel: Matt. 21:33-43 The stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone
Full homily text: We are celebrating the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels and I think that the theme of Guardian Angels might help us understand our catechism family Mass.
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Okay—so what are Guardian Angels? Well, what we believe as Catholics—and none of the so-called “Christians” believe in this—but what we believe is that at the very beginning of our lives God gives each of us our own Guardian Angel.
That’s right. From the first moment of our existence God has assigned to each of us an angel—to help us, to watch over us, to protect us, to inspire us, to warn us, to do whatever that angel can, to help get us to heaven.
What a beautiful image—That each one of us—right now and until the day that we fold it up and go to heaven (God willing)—has an Angel by our side. There is a being, an entity, a person whom we cannot see, whom we cannot hear, who actually loves us and is trying to get us to heaven.
An angel is a person
Now an Angel is a being, it is a person. An Angel has an intelligence and a free will. An Angel thinks—but more clearly than we do; and an Angel loves—but more purely than we do.
But because an Angel is a pure spirit, an Angel is not weighed down by a body. An Angel doesn’t need food or rest or sleep or drink. An Angel does not get old with age or creaky with arthritis. An Angel is light and fast and brilliant. That is why when we draw pictures of Angels we always put them in robes and give them wings. They really do not have wings—it is just that that is the best way to imagine how high above us they are. God has assigned one of these Angels to each of us.
Now how does a Guardian Angel guard us? Well I think it is by gentle inspiration. The Guardian Angel whispers subtly and beautifully into our hearts that this or that course of action—that this or that person is better for us—and if we choose that which is better, we will be doing God’s will—and helping ourselves and our friends and family get to heaven. I often think at the end of our lives, when our souls leave our bodies, and we are brought before God’s Judgment Seat, we will meet our Guardian Angels. And we will fall in love with them because they will be so beautiful, and we will ask them: How did you help me all those years on earth? And our Guardian Angel will say to us: “Do you remember when this was happening in your life—and you were troubled and it was pretty difficult, and things looked pretty dark, and you really didn’t know what to do, but you chose to respond in a certain way, and little by little it started to come together for you and eventually it all turned out okay? And you were happy again. Do you remember that?”
That was me, your angel
And we will say, “Yes. I remember that. It was pretty hard time in my life, and I was very confused and very worried and I felt alone and sad and didn’t know what to do or where to turn—and then somehow it all seemed to change and I was happy again. Somehow, things got better.” And the Angel will tell us: “Well that was me.” And we will be stunned. “Really?” “Yes, that was me, your Guardian Angel.” Of course, the Guardian Angels cannot force us to do good or do evil. Even God cannot do that. The All-Powerful God is powerless in the face of the free will he has given us. And that is why we need all the help we can get in order to survive this life—and get to the next. We need grace and inspiration and maybe an angel along the way to help us out. In a certain sense—and maybe a little poetically, we can understand that our visible parents—our mothers and fathers— the ones who raise us and feed us and love us—are the closest thing we have to visible Guardian Angels. In fact when we think about Guardian Angels, we realize that they are the model for what our Moms and Dads do for us.
Our parents—like the Angels, love us. They protect us and guard us and try to keep us safe and warm and happy—not because they have to—but because they want to. And they will do anything for us—even giving up their lives for us— because they love us.
And now may I speak to our students: Your parents want you to be truly happy and full of life and love. They never want you to be harmed or hurt or saddened. That is exactly why your parents bring you to church every Sunday—and that is why they have enrolled you either in St. Odilo School or in the Monday catechism class. Your parents know that there are persons and people out there who want to hurt you and harm you and see that you don’t get to heaven. These evil entities are trying to make you full of sin and sadness and hurt and evil so that you give up on the good God and a good life. They want you to become like the rest of the people out there—sad and lonely and confused. You know the ones—the sad kids, the bad kids, the ones who never smile. You know, the poor kids that come from the broken homes where there is no love. Where there are only drugs and alcohol abuse—where there is hitting and beating—and crying and screaming—where there is disorder and hatred and anger and bitterness. You tell me if God is there. You and I know it—God is not there. And how sad for those dear families.
But your parents are trying their best to give you God—the True God, so that you will not fall prey to the false gods.
And those aren’t gods—they are devils, and they want to ensnare you and entrap you and make you fall. They want to tell you that money and things and television and music and pleasure will make you happy and satisfy you.
They want you to think that the only things that count in this life are entertainment, games, sports, money, shopping, boys, girls—style, tattoos—Goth or Grunge. But that stuff doesn’t count. It only leads us away from the important things—love and goodness. This is the world. This is the modern world, the world of the cool people—the world of ads and billboards and commercials and TV shows You know, the world that tells you that if you buy enough of their plastic garbage you will be happy? That if you dress like they do or talk like they do or think like they want you to think, then everything will be wonderful. But you and I know it won’t be wonderful.
But they feed us this line and these lies—all day long—all night long—on the radio—on the TV. But you aren’t happy for all your TV’s and IPODS and blackberries and face books and twitter and whatever else. Are you? But they want you to think that you just need one more toy, one more gadget, one more device and then you’ll be happy, right? No. You know you wont be happy. Only God and His truth and grace can make us happy. That is why we have religion—in this church and in that school and in your homes—to provide an alternative to the garbage they are pumping into our hearts and souls every moment of every day. God-through His Catholic church—tells us that life is not about taking—but about giving. That life is not about pleasure but about love. That life is most fully lived when we are ready to sacrifice that life for others.
Protection against Evil One
That is why we have catechism and CCD, and church and Mass and the sacraments—that is why families send their children to St. Odilo—because Faith in God and love of Jesus—which is what we are trying to teach—is the greatest possible protection our children and our families and our parents can have against the Evil One—who wants for us only death.
But the Good God wants only life for us.
And that is why He gives us the Catholic faith and our family—and even sends us Guardian Angels.