14 Aug, Wednesday – Courageous Reconciliation

Aug 14 – St. Maximillian Mary Kolbe, priest, martyr

Maximillian Mary Kolbe (1894-1941) was known as a mischievous child, sometimes considered wild, and a trial to his parents. However around the time of his first Communion, he received a vision of the Virgin Mary that changed his life. While still in seminary, he and six friends founded the Immaculata Movement (Militia Immaculatae, Crusade of Mary Immaculate) devoted to the conversion of sinners, opposition to freemasonry (which was extremely anti-Catholic at the time), spread of the Miraculous Medal (which they wore as their habit), and devotion to Our Lady and the path to Christ. Stricken with tuberculosis which nearly killed him, it left him frail in health the rest of his life. His insights into Marian theology echo today through their influence on Vatican II.

He founded monastries and published a magazine to fight religious apathy in Poland and Japan. By 1939 the Polish monastery housed a religious community of nearly 800 men, the largest in the world in its day, and was completely self-sufficient including medical facilities and a fire brigade staffed by the religious brothers. During his arrest by the Nazis, he volunteered to die in place of a married man with young children. He died as he had always wished – in service.

– Patron Saint Index

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Deuteronomy 34:1-12

Leaving the plains of Moab, Moses went up Mount Nebo, the peak of Pisgah opposite Jericho, and the Lord showed him the whole land; Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the Negeb, and the stretch of the Valley of Jericho, city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. The Lord said to him, ‘This is the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying: I will give it to your descendants. I have let you see it with your own eyes, but you shall not cross into it.’ There in the land of Moab, Moses the servant of the Lord died as the Lord decreed; he buried him in the valley, in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but to this day no one has ever found his grave. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye undimmed, his vigour unimpaired. The sons of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab for thirty days. The days of weeping for the mourning rites of Moses came to an end. Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him. It was he that the sons of Israel obeyed, carrying out the order that the Lord had given to Moses.
Since then, never has there been such a prophet in Israel as Moses, the man the Lord knew face to face. What signs and wonders the Lord caused him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh and all his servants and his whole land! How mighty the hand and great the fear that Moses wielded in the sight of all Israel!
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Matthew 18:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you: the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain any charge. But if he refuses to listen to these, report it to the community; and if he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a pagan or a tax collector.

‘I tell you solemnly, whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.

‘I tell you solemnly once again, if two of you on earth agree to ask anything at all, it will be granted to you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them.’

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“Have it out with him alone, between your two selves…”

I was queuing up for ice cream at a road-side vendor one day when a couple came up and waited behind me. A few minutes later, a lady also came by. However, rather than join the queue, she stood by my side and ‘joined’ the line, cutting behind me and in front of the couple.

Soon, I could hear the couple grumbling to each other, about how this lady had wrongly cut in front of them. I waited for both of them to tell the lady to queue behind (which never happened). In the end, I asked the vendor to serve the couple first, as they were rightly next. I turned to the couple, who looked relieved.

So it is the same for many of our relationships. In our interactions with each other, there is bound to be unhappiness in how we all handle our opinions or how we do things. For many of these situations, rather than speak with the other party, we choose to lament and complain to others. We play the victim, and the more we talk about what has happened, we end up becoming angrier. Our relationships become estranged and far less authentic.

In the Gospel of today, our Lord Jesus instructs us not to fall into this trap. Instead of holding it in our hearts, we are to go to our brothers and sisters and address the issues head-on. Reconciliation is the goal, but Jesus does talk about what to do in the case where one cannot find a resolution to the problems.

What surprised me in this passage is not the face-to-face discussion, but the fact that our faith is not only a vertical one (i.e., between an individual and God) but also a horizontal one (i.e., between an individual and his community). I used to think that my faith was just a private one between myself and God. This passage clearly shows my previous understanding to be limited and short-sighted!

Brothers and sisters, may we always have the courage to speak truthfully and candidly with each other. Let us interact with each other as a stable and cohesive Christian community.

(Today’s OXYGEN by Paul Wee)

Prayer: We pray that we will be able to shed the trappings of our secular world. Help us Father, to be encouraging and loving with each other and without malice. Help us to grow in love for our community.

Thanksgiving: Thank You Jesus, for teaching us that we need to be with each other authentically and lovingly.

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