Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
If you don’t know the story of St. Patrick, it really is worth looking reading. He was neither of Irish descent, nor did he drink green beer (at least to my knowledge.)
It is believed that “Padraig” was born in the fourth century to a wealthy Roman-British family. His father and grandfather were prominent members of the church, although Padraig did not necessarily claim to be a Christian, himself.
When he turned 16, he was taken captive by Irish raiders and sold into slavery in Gaelic Ireland. It is said that he worked six years as a shepherd, and during that time he found the Lord. In the Declaration, (which Patrick supposedly wrote) he says that God spoke to him and told him to flee for the coast where a ship would be waiting for him.
After he returned to home, Patrick became a priest and became so burdened for the people of the nation that held him captive, he returned to convert thousands of pagan Irish to Christianity. He died March 17, and became Irelands most prominent saint.
I love the story of St. Patrick for two reasons. First, because it reminds of the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. Two men in captivity hundreds of years apart experience the Lord’s faithfulness and provision in times of hopelessness and despair.
Secondly, I love that Padraig’s response to his captors is not one of anger, but of compassion. He returns to those who enslaved him, burdened for them, and compelling them to seek the spiritual freedom he received while in captivity on the Emerald Isle.
As I examine my own heart during this Lenten season, I am challenged by the story of St. Patrick, to fast from my human and sinful inclinations towards those who seek to do me harm and to feast on compassion and grace and mercy to which Jesus calls me.
While I hope your Irish holiday is brings you lots of luck (and maybe a green beer) I also hope you take a moment to remember the story of the Saint Patrick, a man who responded in faith and love towards his enemies.
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.” Matthew 5:44