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."
Reflecting about the angels, we highlighted the other day how they represent the correlation of the natural and the spiritual realms in our world. Today, memorial of the Guardian Angels, we can realize once more just how deep that connection runs: You have a Guardian Angel! Someone who accompanies you, shields you, maybe sometimes nudges you. Someone who walks with you and yet “always looks upon the face of the heavenly Father.” If you think about it, that is a pretty amazing friend you have there.
The gospel reveals that truth, in and of itself invisible to us, in the moving context of Jesus declaring the little ones to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. One can sense the beauty in that paradox. What a wholesome world where children are sitting on the thrones! Where their joy and their cheers overrule the grumpy ways of the adults. And where the relationships are dominated by the trustfulness and purity of the innocent. Yes, we can picture the kingdom of heaven like that.
However, that same beauty is more difficult to embrace when it comes to our life here and now. “Whoever humbles himself is the greatest.” To humble yourself - it may feel virtuous, but it is also quite costly. While in heaven, with children in command, it makes sense to behave humbly, this world does not welcome humility. And our hearts, part of this world as they are, do not welcome humility quite that easily neither. Are you ready to choose humility?
Jesus is not only the humble ruler of the afterlife’s kingdom, He also entered humbly into this harsh world as a child. He is not only the most trustful Son to His Divine Father, but also encounters each one of His human creatures with the good-willingness of pure innocence. He surrounds Himself not only with those creatures who worship Him for His humility, His angels; instead He humors the haughty looks of those demons which, witnessing how He willingly degraded Himself, jumped on the opportunity to trample out the power of that humble light in the dark and proud kingdom of the world.
Today, hand in hand hand with your Guardian Angel, choose sides once more: Choose Him in His humility, bracing yourself for how the world will react to the humble version of yourself. Choose Him in His trustfulness, knowing that that trust exposes you to deceptions and disappointments. Choose Him in His redeeming love, allowing the Father to sketch the dynamics of that love in your own days - a sketch from which will, ultimately, surface the shadow of the cross. Choose your master.