“Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28: 19-20, American Standard Version
Today is known as “St. Patrick’s Day,” represented with playful leprechauns and crowds of shamrocks. People will celebrate with green rivers and green beer; overindulge on corned beef and cabbage. In some ways, the celebration has become larger than the message (and isn’t that just so typical of human beings).
We celebrate Patrick as an icon of all things Irish, yet he was not Irish by birth. We represent the day with mythical beings, yet Patrick brought the truth to the Irish people and supplanted mythological tyrants with the facts of the Living Lord. We serve food and drink aplenty to celebrate, yet Patrick began his life in Ireland as a slave with many of life’s comforts lacking.
Stop for a moment and ponder Patrick’s life. Escaped from slavery, he returned to those who enslaved him with the message of God’s love. He followed God’s instruction to leave behind the world of his birth and bring the message to a raw and heathen people. We remember him for his sacrifice of self to serve others (and he wasn’t serving green beer).
As a person of (admittedly partial) Irish descent, I am touched by this day. Because of Patrick, Christianity spread through Ireland. He allowed himself to be the tool used by God to share Truth with a people wandering in pagan darkness. We will never know this side of heaven what blessings came to those people because Patrick was willing to heed the call.
Father, thank You for loving us enough to send Patrick to my distant ancestors. Help me to always remember the day is a celebration of Your goodness toward humanity and Your provision for our salvation. And give me courage to answer Your call to take the message to others as Patrick did.