Aug 14 – St. Maximillian Mary Kolbe, priest, martyr
Maximillian Mary Kolbe (1894-1941) was known as a mischievous child, sometimes considered wild, and a trial to his parents. However, around the time of his first Communion, he received a vision of the Virgin Mary that changed his life. While still in seminary, he and six friends founded the Immaculata Movement (Militia Immaculatae, Crusade of Mary Immaculate) devoted to the conversion of sinners, opposition to freemasonry (which was extremely anti-Catholic at the time), spread of the Miraculous Medal (which they wore as their habit), and devotion to Our Lady and the path to Christ. Stricken with tuberculosis which nearly killed him, it left him frail in health the rest of his life. His insights into Marian theology echo today through their influence on Vatican II.
He founded monastries and published a magazine to fight religious apathy in Poland and Japan. By 1939, the Polish monastery housed a religious community of nearly 800 men, the largest in the world in its day, and was completely self-sufficient including medical facilities and a fire brigade staffed by the religious brothers. During his arrest by the Nazis, he volunteered to die in place of a married man with young children. He died as he had always wished – in service.
- Patron Saint Index
“As for me and my House, we will serve the Lord.”
As we come to the end of the week, it is timely to know that all our inputs, sharing, reflections and learnings would not mean much unless it is translated into how we live our lives.
As in the first reading, it is so easy to say, “I am a witness”, “I choose to follow you”, “You are my God” or “I will serve you”, but what does it exactly mean to do so? Already we are sinners and day after day, we face countless temptations to worship other gods and to place God in the backseat. Indeed our God is almighty, all-powerful and all knowing; is there even a need to serve Him?
God gives us a glimpse of this ‘service’ in the Gospel, where Jesus told his disciples not to stop the children from coming to Him. If we read more closely, we see that it is actually people who brought these children to Him too. And I feel that is, in fact, what our service should be to God — bringing others to Him.
Many times we find ourselves bringing or even convincing our friends and family to head to a certain restaurant, attraction or activity but not so towards God. These investments of our time and money seemingly give us much more back in return, maybe as compared to going for mass or serving in ministry. For our children, it is always about academics, grades, achievements and skills that God seems to almost be the last priority.
Maybe when we are at mass or at ministry, we are so caught up with what we need to do that we forget to focus on the minister himself — Christ. We see how the disciples got so overwhelmed, that they turned people and the children away when their mission was clearly to bring Christ to others, and others to Christ.
For us, we can only serve effectively, and we can only lead others to Christ, if we ourselves have encountered Christ before. We can’t lead others to where we ourselves have not been to.
How are some people so devoted, how are some so active in their service, how are some able to give most of their time and energy to God? I believe, it is in their encountering that they realise they belong to the kingdom of Heaven, to God. Let us continue to seek God in our lives, to remember what He has done for us, how He has led us to where we are today, to invest our lives in Him and in the service of Him and then it is as the psalmist says, “You are my inheritance, O Lord”. Amen.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Benjamin Mao)
Prayer: Lord, help us to serve you with a grateful heart. For it is not in our serving that we are rewarded but because of our reward, your love for us, your blessings for us, that we want to love you in return and share your love with all.
Thanksgiving: 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. Amen.