Friday, August 14, 2009


St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe
Photographer and Date are UNKNOWN


Biographical Information about St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe [1]

Readings for the Memorial of St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe

Readings and Commentary:

First Option
Wisdom 3:1-9

The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.
They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead;
and their passing away was thought an affliction
and their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are in peace.
For if before men, indeed they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
They shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the LORD shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.
Commentary on
Wis 3:1-9

This passage, while frequently used on the feasts of martyrs, can be understood as an early description of the process of achieving a place in the heavenly kingdom by all those who went before us in faith. The flow of this description provides a good picture of the purification of all the faithful that takes place in the transition from life, through purification in Purgatory (“…chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed”), to new life with the Father.

Second Option
1 John 3:14-18

We know that we have passed from death to life
because we love our brothers.
Whoever does not love remains in death.
Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer,
and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him.
The way we came to know love
was that he laid down his life for us;
so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
If someone who has worldly means
sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion,
how can the love of God remain in him?
Children, let us love not in word or speech
but in deed and truth.
Commentary on
1 Jn 3:14-18

St. John continues his narrative on righteousness and love in this passage. Note he has not really focused on what he considers to be the central teaching of Christ – love one another. In this particular section he begins with the comparison from scripture of Cain and Abel (
Genesis 4:1-16). He brings that analogy to why the world, in his eyes intrinsically evil, hates the Christian community, who are good because they love each other.

CCC: 1 Jn 3:15 1033; 1 Jn 3:17 2447
Psalm 116:10-11, 12-13, 16ac-17

R. (15) Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.

I believed, even when I said,
"I am greatly afflicted";
I said in my alarm,
"No man is dependable."
R. Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.

How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
R. Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.

O LORD, I am your servant;
you have loosed my bonds.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
R. Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.
Commentary on
Ps 116:10-11, 12-13, 16ac-17

Psalm 116 is a song of thanksgiving. This selection is an individual prayer and promise to God. The singer understands that the Lord is his salvation. A little confusing is -“Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful ones.”- The meaning is that the death of God's faithful is grievous to God, not that God is pleased with the death.

CCC: Ps 116:12 224; Ps 116:13 1330; Ps 116:17 1330
John 15:12-16

Jesus said to his disciples:
"This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one's life for one's friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
I was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you."
Commentary on
Jn 15:12-16

This selection is part of the discourse on the union of Jesus with his disciples. His words become a monologue and go beyond the immediate crisis of his departure. There is much made of the use of the difference in the Greek words for “love” used in this discourse. When Jesus says “No one has greater love than this…” the word agapao (intimate, selfless love) is used while when he says “You are my friends…” the word phileo (casual "friendly" (brotherly) type of love) is used. St. John uses the two words synonymously so the message is clear.

CCC: Jn 15:12 459, 1823, 1970, 2074; Jn 15:13 363, 609, 614; Jn 15:15 1972, 2347; Jn 15:16-17 2745; Jn 15:16 434, 737, 2615, 2815

Jesus speaks to his disciples about what St. John will later call in paraphrase – the most important thing he told us (this said in response to a critic on Patmos toward the end of his life when for several days his daily homily consisted only of the phrase “Love one another.”) This command, a central part of Christian thought and teaching – a basic truth of the Gospel and implicit in all Christ’s teachings, is handed down to all people in every age of history since it was first commanded.

In every age great saints of the Church step forward and demonstrate what it means to live this phrase; “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends”. Some take the command completely to its fullest expression, as Christ showed his friends in his great passion. That phrase; “Love on another” is fastened as a pendant around the neck of every martyr who stood in the face of hatred and persecution and offered themselves up for Christ who is present in every man, woman, and child.

Such a person was St. Maximilian Kolbe whose memorial we celebrate today. A Catholic Priest born in Poland in 1894, he felt the need to call out to the world. He was tireless in his efforts to extol the virtues of the Blessed Virgin and engaged in numerous missionary activities. When Nazi Germany invaded Poland during World War II, he was sent to the concentration camp, Auschwitz where he continued to offer his spiritual comfort among his fellow prisoners. He did this in complete response to the Gospel, offering his own life to spare a fellow prisoner (a Jew but that makes no difference, we were all there).

His heroic example of expressing a lived imitation of Christ has elevated him in the eyes of the Church to that special place of friend of God. We ask for his intercession on this day. May he pray that we too have the courage to love one another and if needed, lay down our lives for God’s children.


[1] The photograph is of St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe. Photographer and Date are UNKNOWN
[2] Text of Readings is taken from the New American Bible, Copyright © Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 1973, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.

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