“It is not the punishment but the cause that makes the martyr.” ~ Saint Augustine
Maximilian Mary Kolbe was a friar and spiritual leader. In 1941, he was arrested by the Nazis and found himself in Auschwitz. There, he suffered terrible physical abuse.
One day, a prisoner escaped the camp. The commandant had a hard-fast rule: if any person escaped, ten prisoners would be executed.
As the commandant went down a line of prisoners, he would randomly point and say, “This one”. One of the prisoners pleaded because he had a wife and children at home. He wanted to live. Maximilian Kolbe was moved by this prisoner’s plight and asked the commandant for permission to take the man’s place.
The commandant, in amazement, asked, “And just who are you.” Kolbe’s response? “A Catholic priest.”
With a look of disdain, the commandant relented and allowed Maximilian Kolbe to take the place of the condemned prisoner.
Kolbe was placed in a starvation bunker with nine other prisoners. There, he ministered to each of the prisoners, leading them in song and prayers until they died. When Kolbe was the only person left, and the commandant needed the bunker for another set of prisoners, they injected carbolic acid into Kolbe’s veins to stop his heart. The man whose life Kolbe’s substitution was able to spare testified at his cause for canonization.
Many people died in the concentration camps. Some died valiantly. Some died cursing their captors to the very end. Some, like Kolbe, died because their cause was the cause of Jesus: they were willing to lay down their lives for others.
What we do today will show the world what we believe and in whom we believe.
FAITH ACTION: Examine the motive for why you are going to do the things you do today. Are they for Jesus or yourself?