March 17, 2019

What I read today;

Exodus 32; 2 Kings 25 & 1 Chronicles 1; Psalm 76; Jeremiah 10; Acts 14; 1 John 1-2

During World War 2 Benito Mussolini was deposed in Italy in 1943.  Hitler, fearing Italy would capitulate to the Allies, swiftly sent his troops into Italy to take control of the situation.  The dreaded Gestapo entered Rome to ensure order was maintained.  Colonel Herbert Kappler was placed in command.  During his command over 1,000 jews were rounded up and taken to concentration camps.  Most never returned and died in captivity.  Kappler was also charged with rounding up prisoners who had escaped POW camps when the Italian army left their posts after the fall of Mussolini.

It was during this time that Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, aided by numerous priests and Italian citizens hid these POW’s who had made it to Rome.  Many were killed when the Gestapo found them hiding Prisoners of war.  Toward the end of the war, Kappler and his thugs attempted to assassinate O’Flaherty and directly attacked those known to associate with him.  The Pope himself was drawn into the affair.  The Vatican had remained “neutral” during the war.  In the TV movie, the Pope spoke with O’Flaherty and indirectly asked him to stand down, out of fear that the Nazi’s would move on the Vatican itself.  O’Flaherty’s response to the Pope was, “What should a person do when faced with the most horrible of evil?”

O’Flaherty and his companions hid over 4000 people throughout Rome and the surrounding communities. Each one would have died if found out.  They risked their own lives to save the lives of those in their care.  Now that’s love, isn’t it?

But the story doesn’t end there.

After the war, Kappler was captured by the British and returned to Italy to stand trial for his crimes in Rome.  He was sentenced to life in prison.  Every month during his captivity, up until the early 1960’s the only visitor Kappler had was Irish Priest Father Hugh O’Flaherty.  In 1959 O’Flaherty baptized Kappler. Kappler, the very man who tried to kill O’Flaherty, the man who rounded up over 1000 jews, the man who killed his friends.  Yet O’Flaherty didn’t miss a month until his health failed him in the early 1960s.

That’s what John is talking about in 1 John 2.

That’s what true love is.  Loving your enemies.  Loving those who are unloveable.  Loving them, and by our example of love, leading them to Christ.

 

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