Memorial of Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, Priest and Martyr
Maximilian Kolbe represents one of the ultimate “man for others.” Kolbe was born in Poland in 1894 and became a Franciscan, but before his ordination, he founded a sodality called the Knights of Mary Immaculate because he believed the world was going through an intense spiritual warfare. Sentenced to Auschwitz in 1941, he offered to take the place of one of the male prisoners who had a family and was sentenced to die by starvation. Despite knowing he was going to die, he provided strength and consolation to those who were imprisoned with him. He was canonized in 1982, and one of the witnesses to his canonization was the man whose life he spared.
Matthew’s Gospel points to the importance of forgiveness, but acknowledges how hypocritical people can be in offering forgiveness to others (Matthew 18:23-35). A modern example of this could be seen if a man owes thousands of dollars in gambling debt. After claiming that he will pay off the loan in time, the loan shark miraculously cancels the whole debt. Yet, after this encounter, the “newly-forgiven” man finds someone who owes him five dollars and demands it back. However, when word reaches the ears of the loan shark, the “forgiven man” is picked up by the loan shark’s goons until he can pay back his original debt. While humans may not grant absolute forgiveness, through the sacrament of confession, it is possible to begin a completely clean slate with God.