Exploring the Bible / Faith / New Testament / Uncategorized

What to Learn from St. Patrick


Me at St. Patrick’s supposed gravesite in Downpatrick, Ireland. 

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Ireland and learning about Irish culture and particularly, St. Patrick.

One thing I learned is that he probably did not banish all the snakes from Ireland. I thought that was interesting because it was a story I totally and completely believed as a child, the memory of which I had suppressed until I was on Irish soil and it came roaring back quite vividly. When they told me I could do or be anything, a few times I envisioned myself banishing all the bugs or mosquitos from anywhere near me. But alas, there were probably no snakes in Ireland long before St. Patrick got there. 

I have been memorizing Romans 12 lately and have found it is relevant to the life of St. Patrick.

To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12: 20-21

If you didn’t know, as a boy, Patrick was captured by Irish pirates and brought to Ireland as a slave. He worked there for 6 years before escaping and returning to his family.

Then Patrick did something totally insane. He went back to Ireland! What a nut job, right?

I am not fond of people when they force me into a chore that I don’t like so being forced into slavery would really not be my cup of tea. AND once I’d escaped from said slave-holders, you’d be hard-pressed to find me within a thousand mile radius of where my former captors lived. This seems obvious and totally logical to me.

But Jesus doesn’t ask us to follow human logic I guess. Jesus asks us to love our enemies. For Patrick, loving his enemies meant returning to the country of his imprisonment to – get this – HELP THEM! Not a ton is known about his missionary work in Ireland but just the fact that he returned as a missionary at all tells us plenty.

God,  Help me to have an uncommon ability to forgive so much so that I would willingly return to the land of my enemies in order to do your work here on earth. Amen.stpatrick




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