MEMORIAL OF ST. MAXIMILIAN KOLBE, PRIEST & MARTYR

August 14, 2018

Ezekiel 2:8-3:4

 

But you, mortal, hear what I say to you; do not be rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you. I looked, and a hand was stretched out to me, and a written scroll was in it. He spread it before me; it had writing on the front and on the back, and written on it were words of lamentation and mourning and woe.

 

He said to me, O mortal, eat what is offered to you; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel. So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. He said to me, Mortal, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it. Then I ate it; and in my mouth it was as sweet as honey.

He said to me: Mortal, go to the house of Israel and speak my very words to them. 

 

Psalm 119: 14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131

 

I delight in the way of your decrees
    as much as in all riches.

 

Your decrees are my delight,
    they are my counselors.

 

The law of your mouth is better to me
    than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

 

The law of your mouth is better to me
    than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

 

Your decrees are my heritage forever;
    they are the joy of my heart.

 

Your decrees are my heritage forever;
    they are the joy of my heart.

 

Matthew 18: 1-5, 10, 12-14

 

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

 

Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven.

 

What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

 

(NRSVCE)

 

Meditation

 

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe, who is best known for his martyrdom at Auschwitz on this day in 1941. After years of serving the Lord in the priesthood, he ultimately offered his life to save a fellow prisoner who had a family. His life of devotion to our Lord and Our Lady began when he was 12 years old and saw a vision of Our Lady. In this vision, she offered him two crowns, one white representing purity and one red representing martyrdom, and she asked if he would accept either of them. He answered that he would accept both.

 

The Scriptures today speak of childlike humility and accepting what the Lord wants to offer us as a path to sanctity. This call can be paradoxical at times, as we see in the reading from Ezekiel when he was called to eat the scroll that spoke of lamentation, yet was sweet to him and strengthened him to speak to the house of Israel. We see this in St. Maximilian’s story as well when Our Lady offered him the two crowns. On the surface, she was asking him to accept challenges, suffering, and death. Yet by embracing these challenges, he received an eternal reward – and true greatness -- that could never compare to the comforts and happiness of this life.

 

How would you describe your own level of openness to the Lord? Do you trust Him as fully as a little child trusts their parents, ready to receive both graces and challenges because you know He will give you what you need? Or do you struggle to let go of some things, either because you are relying on your own strength or are somehow not sure that God really wants to bless you or knows what you need? Chances are, there are some areas in which your trust and openness to God can be deepened. Take some time today to reflect on this question, to remind yourself of the Lord’s incredible love for you – a love reckless enough to seek you out individually as the good shepherd seeks out the lost sheep – and to ask for the grace to deepen your trust in Him. Remember that His perfect will is for your salvation and for you to bring others to Him, so you can trust that whatever He sends your way will ultimately lead you to Him, which is the greatest gift we could ever receive. Rest in this promise today as a child rests in their parents’ arms and ask for the grace to receive whatever the Lord desires to send you, for your holiness and His glory. St. Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us!

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