"The city shall be filled with boys and girls playing in the streets" (Zech 8:4).
At a time when hope seemed like a distant dream, the prophet Zechariah tells the people of Jerusalem that God will restore Zion and fill the city of Jerusalem with peace. One image of that peace is that children will play in the streets. It is an image from my own childhood, growing up in a neighborhood whre we could play ball in the streets into the early evening in the summer, until the street lights went on and our parents called us to come home.
It is a fitting scene for the feast of Guardian Angels, so often associated with the protection of children. Belief in angels also requires a childlike faith, and some of the best theologians convey that faith in describing these intermediaries who communicate God's mysterious presence in our lives. Angels emanate from the divine heart of God, pure spiritual beings who cross over into our material realm to remind us of God's immanence and protection.
Jesus had a lively sense of angels, whose faces always beheld the Face of God as they watched over innocent children. To despise or abuse a child is to violate the intimacy they have naturally with God, and why it is a sin of profound and frightening consequences. For children are our models for what it means to trust God, to believe in God with open hearts and confidence.
As we go through today, it is no small thing to believe in and look for signs that we are surrounded by God's love, manifested in the care of angels, or that each of us has a special angel. And some of us, perhaps two or three.