Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Maximilian Kolbe

Maximilian Kolbe is the Franciscan priest who gave his life for another--like Jesus. One day in Auschwitz, three prisoners escaped from the concentration camp. In retaliation, the Gestapo said they would kill ten prisoners in return. When the ten were lined up, Father Kolbe suddenly stepped forward and pointed at one of the men, who was married and had children, and took his place. Kolbe was executed. He gave his life for another.

In the Heart of the Sea, by Nathaniel Philbrick, the entire group, who are Quakers, see the only way to survive is for one of them to give his life for the others. How and why is for you to read, yourself. It is enough to know that they drew straws. The one with the shortest straw had to die. They all agreed to do this. One gave his life for others.

Personally, I know a man in prison who is a combination of these two situations. He was in a shootout where a cop was killed. No one could tell who was the one who killed the cop. But it definitely had to be one of them. My friend volunteered to say that he did it because he wasn't married and had no one depending on him. Not exactly a hero because he was doing wrong in the first place. Not a saint, that's for sure. He didn't give his life, like the Quakers in the Heart of the Sea. But in the code of the family, he did the honorable thing. Omerta.

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