Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, martyr
(Deuteronomy 10:12-22; Matthew 17:22-27)
St. Maximilian Kolbe was a Franciscan friar working in Poland until he was arrested by the Gestapo. Committed to Auschwitz, Kolbe saw an opportunity to show his love for God when another prisoner was being sent to death for a crime that he did not commit. Because the man had a family, Kolbe offered himself as a substitute. Pope St. John Paul II considered this act a genuine witness to the faith and canonized Maximillian Kolbe as a martyr. In today’s first reading Moses exhorts the people to likewise give witness to their love of God. But he does not ask them to die for God but to live for him.
The Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land. They have every reason to hope that they and their children will have all the resources they will need to live in prosperity. But Moses, conveying the will of God, wants more than that for them. He wants them to fulfill their destiny of being a model of God’s justice. So he exhorts them to remember God’s graciousness to them and to their ancestors. He is especially concerned that they treat other peoples fairly for, he says, “…you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.”
As mass immigration has become a reality in all parts of the world, we should highlight these words of Moses. It is difficult to sojourn in different lands with different customs and a different language. Immigrants need understanding, fairness and even compassion. Such treatment would show our solidarity not just across national boundaries but among generations.