Feast of St. Patrick
Jesus tells us in today’s reading from St. John’s Gospel, "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life."
We are well into our journey into Lent. The Church presents to us today St. Patrick. He was a great preacher of the "word" and of Jesus Christ. He illustrates the power of the Gospel to save lives and bring eternal life.
St. Patrick was born in Britain. Britain, as part of the Roman Empire, had come to know Christianity. The island to its west, Ireland, had not. Patrick was born of Christian parents and had a basic training in the faith. At age 16 he was captured by a raiding party and brought to Ireland as a slave. For the next six years he lived as a slave, spending much of his time being a shepherd. He was able to escape and returned to Britain and his family.
He was back in Britain for some years. He became a priest and then was sent back to Ireland as a missionary bishop. Ireland was made up of many petty kingdoms suggesting how difficult it was to minister there. Patrick was untiring in his proclamation of the Gospel. Patrick had a strong sense of vocation. He was creative, even resorting to bribing local rulers, so he could preach. He was detained and imprisoned. Patrick baptized numerous Irish people and ordained many priests, rooting the church on Irish soil.
The words of the prophet Isaiah speak beautifully of God’s call of St. Patrick: "Thus says the Lord: In a time of favor I answer you….Saying to the prisoners; Come out! Along the ways they shall find pasture… See, some shall come from afar, others from the north and the west…"
We are called to enter the lives of others, bringing them the Good News of Jesus Christ. We come as though from "a foreign space", as someone unknown to them. God will use us to bring his favor into their lives. He will use us to show them pity and lead them and guide them to springs of water.
Fr. Blaise Czaja, C.P. gives parish missions and retreats. He is a member of the Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.