12“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Today is the feast day of Maximilian Kolbe, Auschwitz prisoner # 16670. When three prisoners disappeared from the camp, the deputy commander selected ten men at random to be placed in a bunker to die of starvation. When Franciszek Gajowniczek was selected he cried out in concern for his wife and children and Maximilian Kolbe volunteered to take his place. For two weeks he led that little community in prayer and song until he alone remained. The guards lost patience and had him executed on August 14, 1941, injecting him with carbolic acid.
Franciszek Gajowniczek survived and was present when Kolbe was canonized in 1982.
28 “Let the one who has my word speak my word faithfully.”
On the Lutheran Calendar, today is also the commemoration of Kaj Munk, a Danish Lutheran Pastor who spoke out against the persecution of the Jews and the Nazi occupation of Denmark. He was arrested by the Gestapo on January 4, 1944 after defying a Nazi ban by preaching in the national cathedral. His body was found in a roadside ditch the next morning.
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)