Memorial of the Holy Guardian Angels
(Zechariah 8:1-8; Matthew 18:1-5.10)
An anecdote about St. Thomas Aquinas may help us understand what Jesus is trying to convey in today’s gospel. Whenever Thomas was to make a presentation, he went to the chapel and prayed. He said more than a “Hail Mary”; rather, he spent a considerable time asking God’s assistance in his effort. Here one of the greatest intellects in history petitions God’s help as if he were a little child begging his father to give him a puppy.
Jesus is telling his disciples that being so suppliant is the best way to approach God. By referring to “angels in heaven” he is saying that God is ready to help His people with their every need. But, he would add, the people must open themselves to the Father’s love.
This is no easy task today. We live in a world that prides itself on competence. Often we don’t want to admit that we need help. We think that we can do anything worth doing by ourselves. Never mind that this isn’t true; it is also wasting our energy by ignoring God’s graciousness. Thomas Aquinas knew better. As always, we have a lot to learn from him.
Tuesday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time
(Zechariah 8:21-23; Luke 9:51-56)
No doubt Jerusalem is one of the most visited cities of the world. Christians and Muslims as well as Jews recognize it as a holy place where God has spoken to humans. The prophecy that Zechariah makes in today’s first reading has evidently been fulfilled. Inhabitants of many cities want to go up to Jerusalem to seek God’s favor. But it was not always this way.
The gospel relates an incident in Jesus’ life when Samaritans not only refused to go to Jerusalem but did not want to deal with anyone going there. Jesus seems more disturbed by his disciples’ intolerance than by the Samaritans’. He chastises James and John for their desire to violently punish the Samaritans. They have been with him a good while now and should have known better.
The name Jerusalem actually means in Hebrew “city of peace.” We should look forward not just to visiting but to residing there. For it is more than a place of prayer; it is a symbol of heaven. In the sense that we seek eternal peace with Christ at death we want to go up to Jerusalem. To this end we must remember Jesus’ censure of violence.