I wonder if Saint Patrick were alive today if he would want to march in a St. Paddy’s Day Parade or enter into the tavern frivolity of green beer and Jigs dinners. Probably not. In fact, as he looks down on March 17th from heaven as one of the great cloud of witnesses, I wonder if his face turns a little green. Who was he really?
An affluent Roman Briton named Patricius; he lived in the fifth century. As a young man he was captured by invaders from Ireland and held as a slave for six years. Just like Joseph’s slavery into Egypt eventually worked for great good for God’s people; Patrick’s time in servitude as a shepherd prepared him for his call from God to return to Ireland.
It was when he returned home to Britain that he had a repeated vision calling him back. A multitude of Irish voices cried out to him: “Holy boy, we beg you to come and walk among us once more.” Ireland at that time still practiced human sacrifice, warred continuously and was renowned for slave trading. Think how strong the pull must have been that he answered the call to evangelize those who had enslaved him.
The magnitude of his success cannot be overestimated. Just think; single handed against an entire nation. But by the time he died, human sacrifice was gone, the slave trade was almost entirely wiped out and the warring factions had greatly diminished. The conversion of the Irish to Christianity was so deep that it stuck and is still visible today.
I understand that in Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day is treated more reverently than here. Maybe we have traded places; maybe now we are the more heathen nation. If so, God won’t you give a new vision to some young Irishman with the courage of Saint Patrick to come and visit us?