Reflection for Friday, October 2, 2009: 26th week in Ordinary Time.

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Kokensparger, Brian
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A popular television program here in the United States (and in Britain, I believe) is Super Nanny. On the show, children with outrageously negative behavior patterns are brought under control by the steady, firm hand of the Super Nanny, who deals time-outs and bedtimes without dinner until the children ultimately behave as society prescribes. Much of the program reveals the power struggle between the children and the adults in their lives, where the children often reveal a sophisticated level of skill in manipulation and extortion.|We automatically assume that these are not the humble children to which Jesus is referring in the Gospel. Or are they? Are children that much different now than they were then? Of course we cannot know this for sure. We like to imagine that there were no spoiled brats in Jesus’ time, but can we assume anything like that? I think not.|The underpinnings of the show reveal that children do like structure, and need and desire enforcement. They need guidance, and expect the adults around them to give it to them. When it is lacking, they act out.|So perhaps the humility of which Jesus speaks is more the realization that we as adults also need guidance, and welcome it. Perhaps this guidance, in addition to that from our communities of faith, and our families, comes also in the form of an occasional gentle nudge from our guardian angel. Like the Super Nanny, our guardian angel offers each of us guidance even when our own communities and families let us down.|However, if we assume that our guardian angels exist to protect us from our own bad decisions, we are mistaken. They are not our slaves. They are not that rich uncle who lives to bail us out of our problems. They exist, like all beings, to serve the Lord.|That's the Good News: that our guardian angels serve the Lord, not us. They are not here to enable our bad behavior. They are here, like all beings, to promote the Kingdom of God, for the coming of the Kingdom. So unlike our slaves or pedagogues, our guardian angels are more like our own personal Super Nanny, which makes sense, because today's Gospel passage tells us we must be as children. To think that they serve us is to entirely miss the point about how God works in our world to create salvation.|In the first reading as well, the exiles to Babylonia confess their sins and their wickedness, finally seeing their part in the events that have landed them in a place that is not their own. "Where were their guardian angels in all of this?" we might ask. But there is a parallel here: While they, as exiles, work not for their tyrannical leaders, but for the good of their community and as an offering to Yahweh, so do our guardian angels work not for us, but for the coming of the Kingdom and as an offering to the Lord.|Today, let us pray for our guardian angels, and also resolve to help them serve the Lord in their very important mission.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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