PATRICK OF IRELAND
This Saturday, March 17, we’ll join with countries across the globe to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Beyond the requirement to wear green and kiss certain people based on their heritage, I’m surprised by how little folks know about St. Patrick’s Day, or more importantly, about Patrick himself.
Sometime toward the end of the fourth century, Patrick was born into a wealthy family in England, but as a 16-year-old youth was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. During his isolated time of tending sheep as a slave, he returned to his Christian roots and came to a genuine faith in Christ. After six years in slavery, he escaped and was able to make his way back to his family in England, where he continued his study of Christian doctrine and was eventually ordained.
Now if anyone had a reason to resent and even hate the Irish people, as well as enjoy the comforts of his family’s wealth, it was Patrick. However, rather than wishing for the judgment of these pagans who’d oppressed him, Patrick felt called to return to them as a missionary, which he eventually did. His decades of missionary work among the Irish people has become the stuff of legends, but the results are still seen today.
Imagine if Patrick had settled for what came natural — to hate those who mistreated him and to stay away from those who opposed him — then no one today would have ever heard of him. Instead, each year people throughout the world celebrate the day honoring this brave, selfless witness for Christ who took the message of the gospel to the lost.
Patrick’s ministry echoes of much of the movement of the gospel recorded in the book of Acts. Just as Patrick would do centuries later, the disciples set aside prejudices, crossed cultural and religious boundaries, and willingly took the gospel to every nation, including those who would persecute them. The recipients of the gospel expanded from being just Jews to Samaritans and then even to Gentiles.
As you find something green to wear and maybe a shamrock or two, I hope that you’ll be reminded of Patrick’s most-enduring legacy: souls who are now in heaven celebrating the one true God and enjoying everlasting life with Him. And with that in mind, may we each do as Patrick did: open our eyes to the world around us and boldly cross any barrier to take the gospel to those in need.