August 14, 2019 (Wednesday of Week 19 Year I: St Maximilian Kolbe)
As a Gentile…
Dear friends in Christ, today we celebrate the Memorial of St Maximilian Kolbe a Franciscan who did his best to propagate the Word of God using the means of modern communication. He founded a newspaper, and a sodality—The Knights of Mary Immaculate which spread widely in Poland and beyond. He went to Japan and also started the newspaper there. He was arrested in 1941 by the invading Germans and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. In August of that year, while the authorities were choosing ten people to die of starvation, one of the men had a family and Maximilian offered to take his place which was accepted. He spent his last days comforting his fellow prisoners. The man he saved was present at his canonisation. What an extraordinary Christian life?
Today’s first reading (Deuteronomy 34:1-12) brings a closure to the earthly journey of Moses. God showed him all the land that the people were to possess in fulfilment of his promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Moses was however not to enter it with them. He died there and was buried, but his place of burial no one knew. Moses lived life to the end in good health. What a great end to the wonderful mission that started in Egypt. “There has arisen no prophet like Moses.” He was a great leader who also had a great relationship with God. Joshua the son of Nun will take over the leadership. The chance to live and to lead is a call to do the will of God and to share what has been given to us with others.
In the gospel (Matthew 18:15-20) Jesus lays down steps to reconciliation for his disciples. In the first place, the offended should approach the offender one on one. Many issues linger because the parties involved are not ready to talk to each other and sometimes the one who is offended thinks the offender was deliberate which might not be. Approaching alone could bring a resolution; but Jesus knows there are situations where that may not be enough. So he says, “take one or two along with you…” The other person must see the seriousness then but if that fails, he says, “tell it to the church.” The church here might also be seen as any community to which you both belong and in case that fails, he says, “Let him be to you as a Gentile or a Tax Collector.” That then looks like a reason to abandon the case and feel you have done enough. That however is not. How did Jesus treat Tax Collectors? The writer of this Gospel was a Tax Collector before he became an Apostle. What did he do to Gentiles? He went out of his way to seek out these two groups. You may have presumed till now that the offender knows he has offended you or at the most, that he is a believer. Now you can be sure that he is either not a believer or not a real believer and that makes him a fresh ground for evangelisation. Never give up on forgiving someone, God has not given up on you.
Let us pray: Teach us Lord to follow your path in forgiving others. Give us the courage and the patience that is needed. Amen. May the Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.