Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on August 14, 2013

savior-in-the-crown-of-thorns-1906.jpg!BlogGospel reading of the day:

Matthew 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church. If he refuses to listen even to the Church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: Reconciliation among the people of God is a four-pronged program. When divisions arise because one individual wrongs another, we are to seek to resolve the problem as individuals who go to one another and find a solution. If this first stage doesn’t achieve the objective, we are to bring the matter to several witnesses who can constructively contribute to the dialogue. Failing this approach, we are advised to lay the matter before the whole community. If the individual refuses to listen to the wisdom of the entire church, the community has the power to separate that person from the rest of the body. But of course, we know from elsewhere in the gospels that even this dramatic step is open to remediation, because the body of Christ always is ready to forgive and reunite with its prodigals, and while the separation is in effect, Jesus calls us to pray for our sister or brother.

Saint of the day: Maximilian Kolbe was born Raymond Kolbe. He took the name Maximilian when he became a friar. He is known chiefly for the manner of his death in Auschwitz, but his life was also noteworthy. He was born in 1894 near Lodz in a part of Poland then under Russian rule, of parents who worked at home as weavers. In 1910, he became a Franciscan, taking the name Maximilian. His parents then undertook the monastic life, his mother as a Benedictine and his father as a Franciscan. His father left the order to run a religious bookstore, and then enlisted with Pilsudski’s army to fight the Russians. He was captured and hanged as a traitor in 1914.

kolbeMaximilian studied at Rome and was ordained in 1919. He returned to Poland and taught Church history in a seminary. He left the seminary to found an association named for the Virgin Mary and dedicated to spreading the Roman Catholic faith and assisting those who held it to learn more about it; and to establish a printing press and publish a periodical for the members of his association, consisting largely of Christian apologetics. He built a friary just west of Warsaw, which eventually housed 762 Franciscans and printed eleven periodicals, one with a circulation of over a million. In 1930 he went to Asia, where he founded friaries in Nagasaki and in India. In 1936 he was recalled to supervise the original friary near Warsaw. When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, he knew that the friary would be seized and sent most content_2of the friars home. He was imprisoned briefly, then released, and returned to the friary, where he and the other friars sheltered 3000 Poles and 1500 Jews and continued to publish a newspaper encouraging its readers.

In May 1941 the friary was closed down and Maximilian and four companions were taken to Auschwitz, where they worked with the other prisoners, chiefly at carrying logs. Maximilian carried on his priestly work surreptitiously, hearing confessions in unlikely places and celebrating the Lord’s Supper with bread and wine smuggled in for that purpose.

In order to discourage escapes, the camp had a rule that if a man escaped, ten men would be killed in retaliation. In July 1941 a man from Kolbe’s bunker turned up missing and was assumed to have escaped. (In fact, he was found later to have drowned in the camp latrine; it is at least possible that it was a suicide.) The remaining men of the bunker were led out and ten were selected, including a Sergeant Francis Gajowniczek. When he uttered a cry of dismay, Maximilian stepped 109890843_fe0832704cforward and said, “I am a Catholic priest. Let me take his place. I am old. He has a wife and children.” The officer had more use for a young worker than for an old one and made the exchange. The ten men were placed in a large basement cell and left there to starve. Maximilian encouraged the others with prayers, psalms, and meditations on the Passion of Christ. After two weeks, only four were alive, and only Maximilian was fully conscious. The four were killed with injections of carbolic acid on August 14, 1941.

Spiritual reading: Every man and woman in this world has been assigned a mission by God. In fact, ever since God created the universe, he arranged the first causes in such a way that the unbroken chain of their effects should create the most favorable conditions and circumstances for each person to fulfill the mission that God had assigned him. Therefore, every person is born with abilities that are proportionate to the mission he or she has been entrusted, and through each person’s whole life, the environment, circumstance and everything else will contribute to make it easy and possible for him or her to reach that purpose. (Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr)


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