Homily (Reflection) for the Memorial of Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, P.M., (14th August, 2017) on the Gospel and the Memorial
(Monday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time (I))
Ps 147:12-15.19-20. (R. v.12);
Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe was born on 8th January, 1894 in Poland as Raymund Kolbe. He was a Conventual Franciscan friar and very active in promoting the Immaculate Virgin Mary. Maximilian earned doctorate in philosophy and theology at the age of 21 and 28 respectively. He organized the Army of the Immaculate One (Militia Immaculata) aimed at the conversion of sinners through the intercession of Mary. Maximilian was ordained a catholic priest in 1918 and continued his work of promoting Mary throughout Poland. Over the next several years, Kolbe founded a monthly periodical titled Knight of the Immaculate and also operated a religious publishing press. He also founded monasteries in both Japan and India. In 1936, his poor health forced him to return to Poland. He was among the brothers who remained in the monastery at the break of World War II. He opened a temporary hospital to aid those in need. He was sent to prison but released three months later. Kolbe refused to sign a document that would recognize him as a German citizen with his German ancestry and continued to work in his monastery, providing shelter for refugees – including hiding 2,000 Jews from German persecution. On 17th February, 1941, the monastery was shut down; Kolbe was arrested by the German Gestapo and taken to the Pawiak prison and three months after was transferred to Auschwitz. Toward the end of his second month in Auschwitz, 10 men were chosen to face death by starvation to warn against escapes. Kolbe was not chosen but volunteered to take the place of a man with a family. After two weeks of dehydration and starvation, he was given a lethal injection of carbolic acid. He died on 14th August, 1941 and his remains were cremated on 15th August. Kolbe was beatified as a “Confessor of the Faith” on 17th October, 1971 by Pope Paul VI and canonized by Pope Saint John Paul II on 10th October, 1982 as a martyr of charity. He is the patron saint of drug addicts, prisoners, families, and the pro-life movement.
Topic: Giving offence.
At Capernaum, the temple tax collectors demanded tax from Jesus and Peter. Although it was wrong for them to demand temple tax from them, yet Jesus paid to avoid giving offence to them.
Giving offence puts one off and might probably degenerate into enmity. Jesus did not even argue with them on its legality. Some might judge this as injustice. Saint Paul writes, “To have lawsuits at all with one another is defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?” (1Cor 6:7).
Provoking others closes the door of communication. Hence Saint Paul advices, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). Again, “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Col 3:21).
Not reasoning in the same direction is not an excuse to give offence to others. Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe aimed at converting the sinners and not provoking them. He finally died in place of a man with family. We must live out Christ’s command, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44).
Bible Readings: 1Cor 6:1-11.
Thought for today: ... love one another (Rom 13:8).
Let us pray: May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant us the grace to live in harmony with one another – Amen (cf. Rom 15:5).
Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe – Pray for us.
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