Adam Chmielowski long sought the right way of life. Among other things, he fought in the ranks of patriots during the January Independence Uprising in Poland, during the years 1863 and 1864. He was seriously wounded in the skirmish and was taken prisoner by the Russians. After regaining his freedom, he devoted himself to painting. In this field, he became known as a talented artist, with promising high hopes. But this did not give him full satisfaction. He always felt anxiety over human misery and social injustice. Because of this, he made a life goal to be devoted to the poor and needy. In compassion for poor and homeless people, he lived in a so-called “heating room”, a barrack that only provides shelter from the cold and night. With the permission of Bishop Dunajewski he put on a religious habit and put on the vow of chastity, taking the name Albert. A year later, he concluded a contract with the magistrate stating that he would take over a shelter for the homeless. He hobbled on the streets of Krakow on a wooden leg (crippled in the uprising), asking for alms for his charges. He collected various gifts for his cart, which he distributed to the needy. Soon people around Alberta began to also want to serve others. In 1888, a congregation of the Albertine Brothers was established, which organized nursing homes in several different towns. Everybody in need could receive a bowl of soup in these houses, a piece of bread, modest clothes and other accommodations.
Brother Albert Chmielowski died on Christmas 1916. Several bishops, clergy members, lay people, and paupers came to his funeral to say their goodbyes. In 1989 Brother Albert Chmielowski was canonized by Pope John Paul II.
The story of the life of Saint Brother Albert is a good illustration of what today’s reading is about. The Apostle Andrew brought to Christ a boy who had 5 loaves and two fish. Lord Jesus asked the boy for these five loaves and two fish so that he could feed a crowd of hungry people. The boy gave them to Christ and He was able to feed over five thousand hungry people. Like the boy from today’s Gospel, Brother Albert gave Christ everything he possessed, although he possessed so little. He was not even healthy, because he was a cripple without a leg. However, what Brother Albert sacrificed – was enough. Christ multiplied the work begun by Brother Albert. What was accomplished exceeded Brother Albert’s wildest imagination. Probably Brother Albert did not even dream that he would be the founder of a religious congregation and that thanks to his devotion to God, thousands of poor peo-ple would receive the help they needed.
Like Christ, and like Brother Albert, we are also saddened and worried about what is happening nowadays in the world. So many people live in poverty! In rich countries, tons of bread and food are thrown into the garbage, and at the same time thousands of people are starving in other parts of the world. Looking at all of this, we feel depressed and discouraged, because we know that we can do little to change this situation. We feel as powerless as the crowd of several thousand people, whom Christ offered to feed in the wilderness.
In spite of this, let us not give in to feelings of discouragement. Let us recall what the boy from today’s Gospel did, what Brother Albert did and let us give Christ everything that we have.
We cannot help people who are poor, homeless or dying of various diseases somewhere far away like in Africa or Asia, but we can help those people who live close to us in our city, on our street, in our neighborhood. It is these people that Christ wants us to help.
So let us start helping! Let us give Jesus our modest strength and the resources that we have, and He will do the rest. He will multiply the good that we do to others above our wildest dreams and imaginations, just as he multiplied five loaves and two fishes and fed thousands of hungry people. You can help the poor of our area by putting an offering, if only your spare change, in the poor boxes which are located next to the exit.