died on May 12, 2008 at 98 years of age, and relatively few of us know
her inspiring story.
... in 1983 the Israeli Supreme Court confirmed her as one of the Righteous among the Nations.
Yes ... in 2003 she received a personal letter from Pope John Paul
II and then Poland's highest civilian decoration, the Order of the White Eagle.
Yes ... in 2007 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
But have you heard of Irene Sendler?
in Poland, Irena Sendler joined the Zegota resistance movement that
opposed the Nazis during World War II. Along with some two dozen other
Zegota members, Sendler saved 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw
Ghetto. She would enter the Ghetto as a Nazi-approved social worker to
check for signs of typhus, then conceal small children in boxes,
suitcases, and trolleys and smuggle them out of the
Ghetto. Outside, she provided the children with false documents
and sheltered them in safe places.
herself was not a Jew.
1943, the Gestapo arrested Sendler, severely tortured her, and
sentenced her to death. Members of the Zegota saved her by bribing
German guards on the way to her execution. She spent the remainder of
the war in hiding.
she made lists of the real names and the new identities of the children
in the hope that after the war she might be able to reunite them with
their families. She hid these lists of names in jars that she buried,
though after the war she found that almost all of the parents had
perished at the Treblinka extermination camp or gone missing.
quiet, humble Catholic woman sought no glory. She did not consider her
efforts to be heroic. Reflecting on her work with and for Jewish
children, she once said: “Every
child saved with my help is the justification of my existence on this
Earth, and not a title to glory."
life stands as a stark contrast to the glory-seeking,
attention-grabbing, self-asserting ways of our day. Humble heroes have
a way of humbling us by their sheer example.
Irene Sendler, a Roman Catholic, had a humble hero who motivated
her -- Christ himself.
"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter
of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the
cross.... Consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners
against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart."
we forsake the vain pursuit of personal glory and embrace the way of
Jesus in our own lives.
In HOPE –