St. Maximilian Kolbe
Whoever does not love remains in death. That's a weighty sentence at 8am on a Monday. But the truth is not limited by clock or calendar. The truth sets us free. And the truth is: if I do not love, I am dead. I may be up and waddling around; talking, doing my laundry, saying Mass, but I am w/o Life. Outside the Way. Knowing that love frees, that love saves, I have a choice: love or don't. If I receive the gift of Divine Love and choose to love in turn, then I live and walk the Way. If, however, I receive the gift of Divine Love and choose not to love, then I live a waking death. A life w/o God. A choice He will honor even after soul and body separate. John tells us that we come to know love b/c Love Himself laid down his life for us. He showed us how to love sacrificially by dying on the Cross for the salvation of the world. If we will love and follow him, that's our path. Like I said, weighty stuff for a Monday at 8am. But not as weighty as the sacrifice we celebrate this morning. We all know the martyr's story of Friar Maximilian Kolbe. He volunteered to take the place of a prisoner in Auschwitz who'd been sentenced to starve to death. With nine others, Kolbe was interred in an underground bunker. After two weeks with no water or food, the Nazis injected the four surviving prisoners with carbolic acid, including Kolbe. JPII canonized him in 1982, declaring him a “martyr of charity.” As horrific as his death was, it was a sacrifice of love. The man he saved was a husband and father. That man survived the Holocaust and attended Kolbe's canonization. As a martyr of charity, Kolbe bears witness to what it is to walk the Way of Christ, to live for the truth in love. There is almost no chance at all that anyone here this morning will be called upon to bear witness to the faith in a similar manner. But Kolbe's sacrifice shows us the limitless edge of sacrificial love. Whatever we do in love today will not match the historical drama of Kolbe's sacrifice. It will pale in comparison. Fortunately, we are called upon to compete with the martyrs. We are called upon to bear witness where and when we are in a way that gives God glory and demonstrates to the world that loving is living a life in Christ. Whoever does not love remains in death. That's our testimony. Love, therefore, not in word or speech but in deed and truth.