A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark 12:28-34
One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, "Which is the first of all the commandments?" Jesus replied, "The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." The scribe said to him, "Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, He is One and there is no other than he. And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices." And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God." And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
REFLECTION: " to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
"I am a Catholic priest from Poland; I would like to take his place, because he has a wife and children," said Prisoner 16670. ( 1940)
World War II brought ruin upon ruin to the whole world. It was Satan's playground. In Auschwitz alone 1.6 to 4.1 million people died. What a painful period when innocence was betrayed by hate! Where was God? Where was Love?
Father Maximilian Mary Kolbe's famous phrase, "only love creates" was the antidote to the hate, killing, destruction and evil of that time. His love, rose to the command of "Love your neighbor as yourself" when he offered to be starved to death in place of Prisoner 5659. Father Maximilian Mary Kolbe had consecrated himself to God through the Blessed Virgin Mary and in so doing had a deep love for the poor and needy and for the salvation of souls
The switch of the prisoners was allowed. Father Maximilian Mary Kolbe was starved but would not die as the other 9 prisoners so sentenced. Eventually he was executed with an injection of carbolic acid at the age of 47.
It is unimaginable the torture Jesus, the Son of God, underwent for love of us. He loves us each so personally that He gave up His Son for our redemption. We are asked to love as God has loved us. Franciszek Gajowniczek, Prisoner 5659, spoke at the beatification of St Maximilian Kolbe in 1971, " I want to express my thanks, for the gift of life." He died at the age of 94.
Is there a special calling for us from God to love our neighbor? What daily choices do we make that affect our neighbor? Are we generous with the gifts and virtues God has given us? Should we buy new clothing for the homeless rather than give our old used tattered clothes ? Do we visit the sick? Pray for their needs? Repent for priests?
Let us pray that our priests may be moved by compassion and love for their parishioners and be willing to go that extra mile to bring home a soul for God. And may we, parishioners, repay the love we receive with love for our priests.