St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th
Today we honour Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, who brought Christianity to Ireland in the early 400s. He was born in Britain, and was kidnapped by Irish pirates who sold him into slavery in their homeland. Later he fled, returned to Britain, and was eventually ordained to the priesthood. In 438 he was made a bishop and given charge over the mission to the Irish. He is known as the father of Irish monasticism, and within a few generations of his monks and nuns had replaced warriors as the heroes of the Irish people.
And the reading for that day:
Matthew 5:43-48 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)
Love for Enemies
43 ‘You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters,[a] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
These passages above are a long way from a parade and green beer. Yet, St. Patrick is not even Irish. Maybe this gives us all a sense that on that day we are all Irish, and can all celebrate together. But maybe this also has to do with Irish Spirituality and the challenge from Matthew to love one’s enemies. One would think Patrick, would have good reason to hate the Irish, and have no desire to return and show love and compassion for the people who captured and sold him and kept him until he escaped.
This is the mystery of God, and relationship rather than logic and justification, that we are all broken and on a journey of faith, the journey of understanding of ourselves, God and others, beyond the labels we use for ourselves and others. The good, the bad and the ugly and beyond. The idea of questions, rather than answers. May we ask the questions and seek answers together as our journey of faith together continues, even when we cannot meet in person.