In Auschwitz, one no longer had a name.
They were known only by a number.
Even pets have names, but not in Auschwitz.
This is how the Nazis turned the prisoners into animals;
Animals that could be beaten when disobedient;
Animals that could be put down when no longer needed or of use.
When prisoners cleaned the latrines and carried the sewage in wheelbarrows,
if the filth from the sewage splashed up on their face they could not stop to wipe it off.
If they did they were beaten.
So even normal, everyday human actions and attitudes were not allowed.
In that way their humanity was stripped from them.
Until one day when a prisoner escaped!
All of the prisoners from his cell block were forced to stand for 8 hours in the hot summer sun with no food or water.
If they fell over from exhaustion they were dragged away and piled on top of each other up like a pile of sticks
The rest were eventually sent to bed with no food.
The next day they were lined up again and this time the commandant began to pick them out one by one like dogs for the starvation bunker, until one man stepped out of line to take the place of another prisoner in the starvation bunker.
It was Maximilian Kolbe!
By his stepping out of line it was the ultimate statement that he was not an animal.
He was a human being with free will who inspite of the hatred and the beatings and threat of starvation still chose to Love!
What in the world wants to take away our humanity and turn us into animals?
Advertising treats us like animals who cannot control our appetites.
Pornography treats us like animals who cannot control our passions.
Everytime we give into our basest desires and instincts we are no more than an animal.
But We have a far greater dignity that no one can take from us.
For we are made in the image and likeness of God!
In the words of Thomas Merton, "To say that we are made in the image and likeness of God is to say that Love is the reason for our existence for God is Love.
Love is our true character.
Love is our true self.
Love is our name!"
Nothing could keep Maximilian from loving.
Not hatred, not beatings, not even death by starvation!
We too should have the courage to step out of the assembly line of life and declare that we are not consumers, we are not animals, we are not user names and passwords.
we are human beings made in the image and likeness of God
And that Love and nothing else is the reason for our existence and the motivation of all we do!
For God is Love and love is our name!
Kolbe's greatest act was not his suffering or his starving or even his laying down his life for another.
Many have done this.
His greatest act was that he maintained his humanity in the face of inhumanity.
The devil seeks to destroy our humanity because it reflects God.
The devil cannot destroy God so he attacks the creature that reflects God the most.
Auschwitz was his greatest attack on all that is human and what makes us human in order to destroy the image of God in the world.
But the attacks have not ended with Auschwitz.
They continue in many forms in society and culture and politics and even religion.
What does it mean to be human?
For some it is just another step in the evolutionary ladder beyond apes and monkeys.
But for us who believe, the true measure of our humanity is how much we reflect God.
For we are made in the image and likeness of God.
The purpose of being human is to reflect God in the world.
God becomes visible in our humanity.
When we see another human being we are seeing the face of God.
If the Nazis had seen the prisoners as human beings they could not have done what they did.
If we see each other as human beings, made in the image and likeness of God, then we cannot treat each other the way we do sometimes.
When we curse at others, hate others, are racist, apathetic, or the like we perpetuate Auschwitz.
We are all called to be Kolbian and reflect humanity in a world that is becoming more and more inhuman as human beings are being stripped of their humanity.
Kolbe maintains and restores our humanity.
Being Kolbian means to maintain our humanity in the face of inhumanity.!!!
Kolbe's restoration of humanity and being human begins with consecration to God through the Immaculata.
Mary reflected God the most and thus was the most human of all.
By becoming like her in our consecration, we become more human and reflect God's image.
Through Consecration we become Living Magnificats,
magnifying God in the world through our humanity.
Prayer : Heavenly Father, may we not be afraid to step out of line, to proclaim your Name and your Kingdom. Amen.
Questions and Meditations :
1. What does it mean to be human?
2. What does it mean to be made in the image and likeness of
3. Where can I step out of line and proclaim God's Kingdom?
4. Where do I follow the crowd instead of Jesus?
5. How do I reflect God in the world?