Patrick, Apostle to Ireland
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated this week, so I thought I would share a brief summary of his history. Many think of St. Patrick’s Day as a day to wear green, celebrate Irish heritage, and have parties. However, there is a rich story behind the holiday.
The man known as “Patrick of Ireland,” “Saint Patrick,” and “Apostle of Ireland” was English by birth (living from late fourth century into the middle of the fifth century) but was captured by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland when he was a teenager. After a handful of years, Patrick escaped from his captors and went back to his home country. Patrick had been raised by a Christian family and later studied for the ministry, rose to leadership in the church, and even returned to Ireland to spread the Gospel of Christ as a missionary (thus the word “apostle”). Just think, Patrick returned to the people who had kidnapped, abused, and enslaved him. Can you imagine returning to the place of your worst nightmare? I don’t know about you, but I may have vowed to never enter Ireland again. And yet, Patrick went back to that pagan society with the Gospel of peace.
I think Patrick’s story beautifully illustrates Scriptures such as Ephesians 4:32, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you,” and Colossians 3:12-13, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”
All of us who bear the holy name of Jesus Christ are to be those who extend the forgiveness of Christ to others, even our enemies, just as we have received the love and grace of Christ ourselves. This St. Patrick’s Day think about the Gospel, evangelism at home and abroad, forgiveness, and grace. Patrick has shown us what it means to “live a life worthy of the calling we have received in Christ.” Now, let us do the same.