Wednesday, 14 August 2013

A story of goodness out of Auschwitz: Maximilian Kolbe

Today the Church is honouring Maximilian Kolbe. During the Nazi occupation of Poland, he helped thousands of refugees, including Polish Jews. He was arrested by the Gestapo in 1941 and imprisoned at Auschwitz. Three months after Maximilian's arrival, a prisoner escaped and, in retaliation, 10 men were chosen at random to die. One of them was a young father and Maximilian offered to take his place. His offer was accepted.

In October of 1982, Pope John Paul II canonized St.Maximilian. At the Vatican for that ceremony was the family and descendants of the man that Maximilian exchanged his life for. Wow.

What a powerful story and witness.

As Christians we are called to strive for justice and peace among all people, and to respect the dignity of every human being. We are called to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

Maximilian Kolbe knew and experienced at a deep level the one Life that we all share in Christ. He recognized that Divine Life in the Polish Christian and Jewish refugees whom he risked his life to help. He recognized that Life in the young father who was one of the 10 chosen for execution - when he offered his life in exchange.

Maximilian Kolbe knew and followed the Master of Life. He respected the dignity of every human being regardless of cultural and religious differences. He served the needs of those around him by offering his own life.

Let us be inspired by Maximilian to come to know Christ more, and to offer our lives in serving and responding to the needs of others. This is the hope of the world.