I completed an early church history course last semester. In it, we were required to complete a research paper and I ended up writing about Saint Patrick’s evangelist mission to the Irish people. The topic came about through a series of unfortunate events, but I was amazed about his passion for Jesus and zeal to share the gospel. My research revealed nothing about hidden treasure, four leaf clovers, beer, and the like.
If you want a glimpse of Patrick’s passion, I would encourage you to consider the life of the Apostle Paul. Saint Patrick was equally as clear of his ministry to share the gospel with the Irish people, as Paul was to share the gospel with the Gentiles. Like Paul, Patrick was constantly on the run from those who wanted to kill him for Christ’s sake, but Patrick believed in his responsibility to fulfill what many Christians refer to as “The Great Commission.” In this commission, Jesus said:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing hem in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20).”
Patrick resiliently approached evangelism with a belief that God would save people from all over the world. He took the responsibility of evangelism very seriously.
He was fearless, resilient, and grateful for the love and deliverance he received from Christ Jesus. His love for God compelled to him to give his life completely to God’s work. We only have a couple of his original writings. In one of them, he shared:
If ever I have done any good for my God whom I love, I beg Him to grant me that I may shed my blood with those exiles and captives from His Name, even though I should be denied a grave, or my body be woefully torn to pieces limb by hounds or wild beast, or the fowls of the air devour it. I am firmly convinced that if this should happen to me, I would have gained my soul together with my body, because on that day without the glory of Christ Jesus our Redeemer, as sons of the living God and joint heirs with Christ, to be made conformable to His image; for of Him, and by Him, and in Him we shall reign.
Footnote: Ludwig Bieler, trans. The Works of St. Patrick: St. Secundinus; Hymn on St. Patrick. Vol. 17 of Ancient Christian Writers: The Works of the Fathers in Translation. (New York, NY: Newman Press, 1953), 39.
Patrick understood that being a Christian, truly devoted to Christ could cost him his life; yet, he counted even the lost of his life to be a privilege if it allowed the Lord’s message to go forward. We can learn a lot from Patrick as we take a few minutes to reflect on this holiday.
There’s another great blog post about Patrick here.
What were your previous thoughts about Saint Patrick’s Day? Have they changed since briefly exploring the realities of his faithful life and service?
© Natasha S. Robinson 2011