The Gift of Life

Nazi Concentration Camp

On the cover of this month’s Crusader Magazine is a picture of Francis Gajowniczek receiving Holy Communion from Pope John Paul II.

I read Francis’ story in the Reader’s Digest when I was a boy. He had been a prisoner in a Nazi Concentration Camp in World War II and he had been sentenced to death by the camp commandant. He broke down, knowing he would never see his family again, and a Franciscan priest, Maximilian Kolbe, offered to take his place. The priest died, Francis survived the war and returned to his family.

He wrote of his gratitude to Maximilian and saw his life as a daily gift from the man who had died for him. I thought it was a wonderful story.

Maximilian died 14th August 1941, seventy-five years ago, and is now a canonised saint. I have always felt a deep admiration for him because of that story I read as a boy. So good to see the face of the man whose gratitude I have always felt inspiring, living his life each day as a gift from the saint.

We all can be grateful to our parents for giving us the gift of life and to the God who through their love gave us that life. But we need to be reminded, even jolted, don’t we, because we take so much in life for granted. But, it is a gift and Francis’ gratitude is a reminder to be grateful – to Maximilian and God, to our parents and God, and then to everyone who makes our lives worthwhile.

All is a gift. We were nothing and then we were someone, are someone, and will live forever in the life of eternity with God and our loved ones – who will then be our brothers and sisters of the whole human race from the beginning to the end and from every part and time of Creation.

What a thought, our brothers and sisters in outer space . . . . our brothers and sisters of past ages . . . . our brothers and sisters of future ages. Nonsense, say our non-believing brothers and sisters; wonderful, say our believing brothers and sisters . . .

God bless us all, believing and non-believing.

Fr John

Related Links: Popular Reads and Fr John’s Parish Newsletters