|Made in God's Image |
We are created by God. We are recreated into Christ's image with the hope and expectation that we will do good works, works that God prepared for us beforehand. This is our vocation.
St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe
"I don't know what's going to become of you!" How many parents have said that? Maximilian Mary Kolbe's reaction was, "I prayed very hard to Our Lady to tell me what would happen to me. She appeared, holding in her hands two crowns, one white, one red. She asked if I would like to have them—one was for purity, the other for martyrdom. I said, 'I choose both.' She smiled and disappeared." After that he was not the same.
He entered the minor seminary of the Conventual Franciscans in Lvív (then Poland, now Ukraine), near his birthplace, and at 16 became a novice. Though he later achieved doctorates in philosophy and theology, he was deeply interested in science, even drawing plans for rocket ships.
Ordained at 24, he saw religious indifference as the deadliest poison of the day. His mission was to combat it. He had already founded the Militia of the Immaculata, whose aim was to fight evil with the witness of the good life, prayer, work and suffering. He dreamed of and then founded Knight of the Immaculata, a religious magazine under Mary's protection to preach the Good News to all nations. For the work of publication he established a "City of the Immaculata"—Niepokalanow—which housed 700 of his Franciscan brothers. He later founded one in Nagasaki, Japan. Both the Militia and the magazine ultimately reached the one-million mark in members and subscribers. His love of God was daily filtered through devotion to Mary.
In 1939 the Nazi panzers overran Poland with deadly speed. Niepokalanow was severely bombed. Kolbe and his friars were arrested, then released in less than three months, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.
In 1941 he was arrested again. The Nazis' purpose was to liquidate the select ones, the leaders. The end came quickly, in Auschwitz three months later, after terrible beatings and humiliations.
A prisoner had escaped. The commandant announced that 10 men would die. He relished walking along the ranks. "This one. That one." As they were being marched away to the starvation bunkers, Number 16670 dared to step from the line. "I would like to take that man's place. He has a wife and children." "Who are you?" "A priest." No name, no mention of fame. Silence. The commandant, dumbfounded, perhaps with a fleeting thought of history, kicked Sergeant Francis Gajowniczek out of line and ordered Father Kolbe to go with the nine. In the "block of death" they were ordered to strip naked, and their slow starvation began in darkness. But there was no screaming—the prisoners sang. By the eve of the Assumption four were left alive. The jailer came to finish Kolbe off as he sat in a corner praying. He lifted his fleshless arm to receive the bite of the hypodermic needle. It was filled with carbolic acid. They burned his body with all the others. He was beatified in 1971 and canonized in 1982.
"Courage, my sons. Don't you see that we are leaving on a mission? They pay our fare in the bargain. What a piece of good luck! The thing to do now is to pray well in order to win as many souls as possible. Let us, then, tell the Blessed Virgin that we are content, and that she can do with us anything she wishes" (Maximilian Mary Kolbe, when first arrested).
Saint of the DayLives, Lessons and FeastBy Leonard Foley, O.F.M.; revised by Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.
What is present to me is what has a hold on my becoming.
I reflect on the Presence of God always there in love,
amidst the many things that have a hold on me.
I pause and pray that I may let God
affect my becoming in this precise moment.
"Leave me here freely all alone
In cell where never sunlight shone
should no one ever speak to me
This golden silence makes me free."
Part of a poem written by a prisoner at Dachau concentration camp
How am I really feeling? Lighthearted? Heavy-hearted? I may be very much at peace, happy to be here. Equally, I may be frustrated, worried or angry. I acknowledge how I really am. It is the real me that the Lord loves.
The Word of God
Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr
The word of the LORD came to me:
Son of man, you live in the midst of a rebellious house;
they have eyes to see but do not see,
and ears to hear but do not hear,
for they are a rebellious house.
Now, son of man, during the day while they are looking on,
prepare your baggage as though for exile,
and again while they are looking on,
migrate from where you live to another place;
perhaps they will see that they are a rebellious house.
You shall bring out your baggage like an exile in the daytime
while they are looking on;
in the evening, again while they are looking on,
you shall go out like one of those driven into exile;
while they look on, dig a hole in the wall and pass through it;
while they look on, shoulder the burden and set out in the darkness;
cover your face that you may not see the land,
for I have made you a sign for the house of Israel.
I did as I was told.
During the day I brought out my baggage
as though it were that of an exile,
and at evening I dug a hole through the wall with my hand
and, while they looked on, set out in the darkness,
shouldering my burden.
Then, in the morning, the word of the LORD came to me:
Son of man, did not the house of Israel, that rebellious house,
ask you what you were doing?
Tell them: Thus says the Lord GOD:
This oracle concerns Jerusalem
and the whole house of Israel within it.
I am a sign for you:
as I have done, so shall it be done to them;
as captives they shall go into exile.
The prince who is among them shall shoulder his burden
and set out in darkness,
going through a hole he has dug out in the wall,
and covering his face lest he be seen by anyone.
R. (see 7b) Do not forget the works of the Lord!
They tempted and rebelled against God the Most High,
and kept not his decrees.
They turned back and were faithless like their fathers;
they recoiled like a treacherous bow.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
They angered him with their high places
and with their idols roused his jealousy.
God heard and was enraged
and utterly rejected Israel.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
And he surrendered his strength into captivity,
his glory in the hands of the foe.
He abandoned his people to the sword
and was enraged against his inheritance.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
Peter approached Jesus and asked him,
"Lord, if my brother sins against me,
how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?"
Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting,
a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back,
his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property,
in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.'
Moved with compassion the master of that servant
let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants
who owed him a much smaller amount.
He seized him and started to choke him, demanding,
'Pay back what you owe.'
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him,
'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'
But he refused.
Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison
until he paid back the debt.
Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened,
they were deeply disturbed,
and went to their master and reported the whole affair.
His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant!
I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,
as I had pity on you?'
Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers
until he should pay back the whole debt.
So will my heavenly Father do to you,
unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart."
When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee
and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.
How has God's Word moved me? Has it left me cold? Has it consoled me or moved me to act in a new way?
I imagine Jesus standing or sitting beside me, I turn and share my feelings with him.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.
Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr
Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you? (Matthew 18:33)
Have you ever been pulled into an argument as a mediator? If so, you may have found yourself wondering, "What's the big deal here?" Both sides are heated up, and neither is willing to budge, but when you look at the issues from the outside, you have a hard time seeing why these two people can't just forgive each other and move on.
We all know that it's much harder to let go of a wrong when we're personally involved. The parable that Jesus tells in today's Gospel reading gives us a great example of this. "What is this guy's problem?" we think. "He was just forgiven a huge debt, but he can't give someone else a little time to pay back a small loan." But before you write him off as a scoundrel, take a minute to put yourself in his shoes. Can you imagine your sense of justice and right clouding your vision, causing you to forget the mercy you have just received?
In truth, each of us is like this man. We have come to the King with an unpayable debt, and we have thrown ourselves on his mercy. And incredibly, he has pardoned us! We may be tempted to view the forgiveness we have received from God as somehow less personal or less costly than the forgiveness he expects us to show other people. But this just isn't true. Our salvation cost God dearly—more than it costs a king who forgives a million-dollar debt. God gave up his only Son to set us free. And now he calls us to be just as merciful with everyone else. When we have been wronged, when we most want to demand our rights, this is when our forgiveness can shine the brightest.
The truth is, you really can't come up with this miraculous mercy on your own. The best you can do is to pass on the same mercy that you have received from God. So the next time someone wrongs you or lets you down, remind yourself how much you have let God down. Remember, too, the costly personal mercy you have received from him. Then pass it on.
"Father, teach me to share the mercy you have so freely given to me."
Ezekiel 12:1-12; Psalm 78:56-59, 61-62
It is very interesting that last night we got together (me and co-workers) and as we waited for one running late, we resumed watching a video on the prophets of the bible. We saw today's 1st Holy Scripture in video but didn't really know what we were watching until I read today's readings. I saw how the prince ran through tunnels trying to get away, to save his life, but in the end he lost it. But I didn't know the prophet had foreshadowed this act for the house of Israel (the people of God). We prayed today "Do Not Forget The Works Of The Lord!". In comes Jesus. They asked Him how many times do we forgive? Forever. Why? Because that's how God forgives, and we are called to be like Christ. Then the story comes from His precious lips and heart about the debts forgiven and not. Oh how I love to be forgiven! But do I love to forgive? I done someone so wrong and want to get right with them and the Lord, I feel so bad. But the moment someone wrongs me? I hate how I can't forgive, it seems to take forever to forgive some people, or worse yet...myself. How is it that God can forgive in reconciliation with the Church, but I can't forgive...even myself?
The Holy Spirit reigns. It is a sin to believe your sin is greater than God's mercy. What He wants us total surrender. St. Max Kolbe did. Yesterday I met a man that said he was part of the Militia Immaculata. Today I realized it came from St. Max Kolbe. What do you have to do to become Militia? Become devoted. That's what God wants. The reason the prince ran into darkness was because he was living in darkness (devoted to other things). I told the co-workers last night that the life we live now ties what life we will live after death. Just right now someone called me cursing left and right. How should one respond? Forgiveness. Pray (pay) for the debtors little debts, didn't St. Max Kolbe do as Jesus did? Lest my pride makes me die...spiritually.
Too many times we get lemons thrown at us that aim to sour our lives. But all we need is some Love, some sugar to make it good. In comes Jesus. The story of my Christianity is the degree of Jesus allowed in my life. The story is one of reconciliation and thankfulness. The people of God throughout history have come to Him in obedience, and then lax, and then turn on Him wihout them even fully realizing. We live in times where we are lax. This could turn on Him. Am I some sort of prophet? Rightly,(we all are baptized so) but it doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize the world I live in does not worship God as we ought. We worship other idols. Heck, one of them is called "American Idol". I saw last week where they record this show while on vacation, they have heads of bronze of American prominent figures where people can go read on them or take pictures with their figures. People pay time, money, ... their lives to these idols. Other idols? Sports, work, trying to be like so and so. Trying to be this and that, anything and any one, except Jesus. It is super rare to come across an individual trying to live a life like Jesus. Like a Saint Francis trying to be like Jesus. The people we read about in Ezekiel that just looked at the prophet and were amused at him as he tried to get a message across is the story of us today reading the Good News and not being phased by it. Jesus is showing us the way out. This is nothing to take lightly. This life is of a few years, the next is forever. Jesse Romero said in a talk I heard in spanish yesterday that "saints aren't born in Heaven, they are born on earth". People are in Heaven, souls are in Heaven. But not all. And what of the over 60,000,000 Americans that are not alive killed in surgical abortions in the last few decades? The worst idol I have begun to realize is the self-idol. Worshipping of self over all else. I ran across a Mason this week and he asked why I said I couldn't be a Mason, and I replied "...because I am Catholic." I continued "...because Masons have to put that above everything in their lives" but I have to put God above everything in my life. Can you see the idols and idealisms we are up against? And I said this in front of the man in the Militia of the Immaculata. Together witnessing to a man that I have now begun to pray for his salvation. What Jesus wants is reconciliation and total dedication to Him...above all, the sugar of my life sweeter than honey
the message from above
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