While we remember Maximillian Kolbe as a martyr who gave up his life so another prisoner in Auschwitz can live, he did not reach that point in his life in an instant. His life is one that is devoted to Jesus through the Immaculate Mother. He was a Franciscan who started an apostolate called Militia of the Immaculate, he started a ministry of printing materials to spread devotion to our Lady. This ministry grew and he had to move to a bigger location which later became the City of the Immaculate. This mission grew and spread to Japan. When the Nazis occupied Poland in World War II, Maximillian was arrested for two months before he went back to the city of the Immaculate. He was arrested a second time and when it was reported that a prisoner in his barracks escaped, the deputy camp commander picked ten men at random to be executed as a lesson to others. One of them had a wife and children so Maximillian volunteered to take his place. For this, he suffered a long and painful death when they starved him to death.
St Maximillian shows sanctity is achieved by cooperating with the grace of God. It is a consistent dying to ourselves, devoting ourselves to Jesus through the heart of Mary. It is trusting God with our lives. The First Reading tells us why Jerusalem, despite all the things God has done for her, will eventually fall: you trusted in your beauty, and played the whore because of your fame, and lavished your whorings on any pass by. We commit idolatry when we stop trusting God because we depend on our own effort and not God’s power. In the Gospel, when the Pharisees came to Jesus and ask about divorce, Jesus took them back to the beginning where God created them male and female… so they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate. The Pharisees ask why Moses allowed divorce. Jesus said it was because you were so hard-hearted that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives.
When we trust in ourselves and do what we want, we will eventually reject God because we will find the will of God too difficult and impossible. But St Maximillian Kolbe shows us how it is possible to live a heroic life: to dedicate himself to the Immaculate Mother whose example we follow so we can love Christ. He called his organization Militia of the Immaculate because he knew holiness is something we need to fight for by educating ourselves in the faith. It requires vigilance and self-sacrifice. St Maximillian eventually proved this by giving up his life for another person.
Lord teach me to trust you and not on myself. Let my desire be to love you with my whole heart. Let me not trust in my strengths or effort. Instead, teach me to live my life for you. St Maximillian, teach me to love Jesus by following Mary. Help me to fight for my holiness by loving Jesus and giving myself to him.