Matthew 18: 1-5, 12-14
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
The word “hero” has suffered no little loss caused by its highly inflated use. Now everyone is a hero for doing what was in the past just the job assigned. Frequently the quote from Winston Churchill comes to mind: “It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what is required.”
True heroism stands as an extraordinary feat of human effort well beyond what is required and today’s feast recalls such an action. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan priest, offered his life as a replacement for one of 10 prisoners who were to be starved to death in the prisons of Auschwitz. His life up to this point had been in imitation of Mary’s “yes” to God, and his devotion to Mary throughout his life provided him the strength for this heroic act.
Saying yes to God’s will can provide us with ample opportunities for sacrifice and dedication. Mary stands as model of that yes and saints and sinners have turned to her for encouragement. Mary’s life serves as a model for Christians since it was a mixture of tremendous joys and sufferings. But her faith in God’s saving power gained her a place in heaven. The feast we celebrate tomorrow, the Assumption, testifies to God’s saving action in the world and the promise of eternal joy with Him and His Saints. Not all of may be called or have the opportunity to be hero such as Maximilian Kolbe, but God always puts us in situations where our Christian values are put to the test and provides us an opportunities to say yes to God in imitation of Mary and the saints.
—Fr. Michael Maher, S.J.
Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, drench me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
Good Jesus, hear me
Within your wounds, shelter me
from turning away, keep me
From the evil one, protect me
At the hour of my death, call me
Into your presence lead me
to praise you with all your saints
Forever and ever.
—St. Ignatius of Loyola