Sixth Sunday of Easter


Many of you you will have heard of Maximiliano Kolbe, he was a polish catholic priest and conventual Franciscan friar, who was in the German concentration Camp os Auschwitz, located in occupied Poland during world war II.  At the end of July 1941, one prisoner escaped from the camp, prompting the deputy camp commander, to pick ten men to be starved to death in an underground bunker to deter further escape attempts. When one of the selected men, cried out, “My wife! My children!”.  Fr. Kolbe had pity on him, he took a step forward,  and offered to die in his place.  His offer was accepted. And so he gave his life in the place of another.  According to an eyewitness, who was an assistant janitor at that time, in his prison cell, Fr. Kolbe led the prisoners in prayer. Each time the guards checked on him, he was standing or kneeling in the middle of the cell and looking calmly at those who entered. After they had been starved and deprived of water for two weeks, only Fr. Kolbe remained alive. The guards wanted the bunker emptied, so they gave Fr. Kolbe a lethal injection of carbolic acid. Fr. Kolbe is said to have raised his left arm and calmly waited for the deadly injection. He died on 14 August. His remains were cremated on 15 August, the Feast day of the Assumption of Mary. In today’s gospel, we find Jesus speaking to his apostles,  he will die the next day, but they did not know that,  and he opens his heart to them.  He says no greater love is there than this: than if a man gave up his life for his friends. Jesus not only said this but he did this.  For this reason whenever we see a crucifix, whenever  we touch one or kiss one or wear one,  we remember the friend who gave his life for us.  Then Jesus goes on further to say: “I no longer call you servants, I call you friends”.  We use the word friend very often,  perhaps we don’t always give it its deepest meaning.  Good friends trust their friends, and forgive their friends,  and this is what Jesus did for us even when we failed him, and failed him gravely.  Jesus never regretted being our friend.  Moses gave the chosen people ten commandments,  and now Jesus gives us one,  “love one another as I have loved you”.  It is the highest form of love, it is the highest form of friendship;  and it is what defines us as christians. At the beginning of Christianity the Romans were amazed at how the Christians loved each other.  We may never, be called to give our life for someone else,  like Fr. Klobe,  but every day offers us many opportunites to do what Jesus would do,  to be kind to be gentle,  to be always ready to listen to other people, to be understanding,  and to be forgiving,  to be a true friend.  Dale Carnegie, an American writer and lecturer said: ‘You make more friends by becoming interested in people, than by trying to interest other people in yourself’. When we are true friends we make the words of Jesus at the last supper become a reality  in our lives.