Posted by: frburke23 | August 13, 2012

Thought for Tuesday, 19th Week of Ordinary Time (St. Maximilian Kolbe)

Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14

The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said,
“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever becomes humble like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven
always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.
What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.”


I was recently talking to a priest friend about his preparation of children with special needs for their First Communion.  He asked one child about their understanding of the Eucharist and the little boy responded, “It is like medicine.”  My priest friend sat amazed at the answer that this little boy gave.

The Eucharist is the Bread from Heaven and medicine for our souls.  It is the Food that sustains us on this journey of life and faith.  The Eucharist can heal our weary souls when we feel like we cannot go on.  In his simplicity, this little boy described what we adults sometimes miss.  “Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Am I humble like a little child?

Do I seek to get attention and higher positions in society for myself, or do I seek to be greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven by becoming like a little child?

Today the Church also remembers St. Maximilian Kolbe, who died on this date in 1941 at the concentration camp in Auschwitz.  He was born in Poland and as a teenager joined the Franciscans.  He was ordained at the age of 24 and became a missionary priest in Japan.  His whole focus in life was the salvation of souls.  When World War II broke out he returned home to Poland and was arrested and sent to Auschwitz.

While at Auschwitz he shared his faith openly with the other prisoners.  Then on August 14th the soldiers came to kill 10 men for the reprisal of a few prisoners.  When one of the men’s name was called, Franciszek Gajowniczek, he cried out, “My wife!  My children!”  Fr. Kolbe volunteered to take the place of Franciszek.  Maximilian Kolbe was canonized in 1982 by Pope John Paul II, and Franciszek Gajowniczek was present for the Mass that day.

Kolbe followed the example of his savior Jesus Christ, giving His very blood to save others.  Fr. Kolbe’s selfless example makes me think…if I were in his situation, could I do the same?  Am I willing to love selflessly by giving up my life for others? 

Lord, help me to live a more selfless life.  Help me to be humble like a child and to give my life away like St. Maximilian Kolbe.  You have promised that if we become like children, the Kingdom of Heaven will be ours.  You also promised that if we give our lives away in loving service, our return will be 100 times more.  Help me to want what you want and to accept all things with joy.

Have a blessed day,

Fr. Burke

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  1. Hi Fr. Burke!
    This story of the child reminded me of a Katie story. Right outside of the Adoration Chapel at St. Mary Immaculate is a Crucifix and a kneeler in front of it. Katie was about 3 years old, it was after Mass and we were talking to Fr. Rick in the back of the church. Katie darted off and Fr. Rick said, “Where are you going Princess?” and without missing a beat she said, “to the healer”. That was what she called the kneeler. John and I started to correct her and Fr. Rick stopped us, as he pointed out, “out of the mouth of babes”. Katie had that sense that that is where you go to be healed and she taught us that lesson that day.

    • Great story. Thanks for sharing…

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