July 19, 2014
READ: Isaiah 9:1-7
The people who walk in darkness will see a great light (v.2).
When the Nazis overran Poland, Father Maximilian Kolbe transformed his friary into a covert refugee centre. Before the SS troops discovered Kolbe’s plot, the men had hidden more than 2,000 Jews. The SS shipped Kolbe to Auschwitz, prisoner #16670. Though beaten, forced into hard labour and given sparse food, Kolbe’s gentleness never waned.
After three prisoners escaped the camp, Auschwitz’s commandant selected 10 others to be locked in a bunker and starved to death. When Franciszek Gajowniczek was chosen, he sobbed, “My wife! My children! What will they do?” Kolbe stepped forward and asked the commandant to allow him to take Gajowniczek’s place. In the bunker, Kolbe prayed, read psalms and sang hymns with the men. After 2 weeks he was the only prisoner still alive. Wanting to empty the bunker, a guard gave Kolbe a lethal injection of carbolic acid.
An Auschwitz survivor, Jerzy Bielecki, described Kolbe’s sacrificial death as “a shock filled with hope, bringing new life and strength. . . . It was like a powerful shaft of light in the darkness of the camp.”
Maximilian Kolbe would probably be the first to say that whatever light he offered was merely a reflection of the radiance of God. The collected stories of Kolbe’s life make it clear that he didn’t view himself as a hero, but as one who longed to bear witness to the love and light of God in Jesus Christ. Like the prophet Isaiah, Kolbe’s life proclaimed this message: “For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine” (Isaiah 9:2). This light was the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
In Jesus, God shatters the dark and hopeless places of our world. Indeed, a powerful shaft of light has come! —Winn Collier
365-day plan› John 6:41-71
Read Psalm 27:1-14. How does it describe God in the opening verse? As the psalm unfolds, how does the writer present the effects of God shining into our world?
Where in your world do you need a powerful shaft of light today? How does God’s light push back the darkness of the world?