Wednesday, 14 August 2019 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Red

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the feast of one of the most renowned saints of our modern day era, one whom we may be quite familiar with, the saint of the World War II era and the NAZI Holocaust, namely St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish priest and martyr, who gave his life for a very noble cause, imitating the very love which God has given to all of us His beloved ones.

St. Maximilian Kolbe was a conventual Franciscan friar and priest who worked as a missionary for many years in the East, in Japan and other places such as India, where he was known for his zeal and piety, his contributions to the Church and its development in the mission regions, by the establishment of the Militia Immaculatae or the Army of the Immaculate One in his early years as a friar and then priest, through his personal strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to counter the many works of the devil and the opponents of the Church.

St. Maximilian Kolbe served the Lord faithfully for many years and dedicated his life to bring about the greater glory of God and the salvation of His people. He returned to Poland where he was born in, and continued to serve the Church afterwards in the years just immediately preceding the Second World War. He stayed on when the forces of NAZI Germany overran the entire nation of Poland and beyond.

Eventually, his opposition to the NAZI regime and constant passive resistance through the publications and works his monastery produced led to him being arrested and brought to the infamous concentration camp of Auschwitz. Even there, he continued to serve the people who were in despair and suffering in the worst conditions imaginable in the concentration camp. As a priest and servant of God, he inspired many of the inmates in the camp to remain strong in their faith and in their hope.

And St. Maximilian Kolbe was especially remembered for his courageous and most selfless love, when he offered himself in exchange for another inmate who was about to be executed when an attempt in escaping was foiled. The faithful saint offered himself because the man was in despair over his family that he was to leave behind if he was to be executed. And thus, St. Maximilian Kolbe in fact followed in the example of Christ, in offering himself to suffer for the sake of others.

And through all of these, the good examples of St. Maximilian Kolbe, and the words of the Scripture we heard today, we are all reminded to be exemplary in our lives, living our lives with genuine and strong faith. In our first reading today, we heard the account from the Book of Deuteronomy in which Moses, the one whom God appointed to be the leader of His people Israel in order to rescue them from the tyranny of the Pharaoh and slavery in Egypt finally went to the end of his earthly life at Mount Nebo.

Moses was not able to enter the land promised by God to the children of Israel, although he was allowed to have a glance at the whole land before he died. It was because of the disobedience that Moses performed out of anger, when he did not do as the Lord commanded when the people pressed hard on him and complained against him and God. But regardless of that and besides that unfortunate occasion, Moses was truly a very faithful servant of God, much as St. Maximilian Kolbe had been.

Moses devoted his life to the Lord and tirelessly served God for many, many years, guiding and leading the people of Israel through to the right path, despite their constant bickering, disobedience and stubbornness in refusing to listen to God and His will. He persevered through all of the challenges and remained true to the very end, serving God with all of his heart and with all of his strength, and therefore, now counted as one of the great saints and elders of the faith.

All of us are reminded today therefore to walk in the footsteps of these holy predecessors of ours, Moses, the many other faithful and holy prophets, the holy Apostles, saints and martyrs of all the ages, and St. Maximilian Kolbe, the martyr of our more recent times. We are called to be true Christians in how we live our lives from now on, that just as those saints and martyrs have been faithful in theirs, and reflect the glory and love of God, we too may do the same with our lives.

In the Gospel passage today, the Lord also reminds us that we all have been given responsibilities as members of the Church, the Body of the faithful people of God. In that passage, the Lord exhorted His disciples to take care of one another and pay attention to those who have erred in the practices and beliefs of their faith, and to bring them back to the Lord and to reconcile them with Him in love.

Are we able to what the Lord has commanded us, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to do what our holy predecessors had done? Let us all ask for the intercession of St. Maximilian Kolbe and the holy saints of God, that through their prayers God may give us the strength and courage to live faithfully in His presence, from now on and till the end of time. Amen.

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