15th day of Lent
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…”
Life had been tough for Maewyn. Well, not at first. He had a loving family, and his dad was a deacon in the church. But Maewyn hadn’t bought into all of that God stuff and instead spent his time daydreaming and staring out at the sea.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t a good place for him to be. One day a marauding band of pirates saw Maewyn walking along the beach and decided that he’d make a good cabin boy. So they kidnapped him and took him to their camp, forcing him to do all of the dirty work they didn’t enjoy, like washing the dishes, peeling the potatoes and cleaning the fish.
During those six years, however, a funny thing started happening to Maewyn. He started remembering all of the stories about God that his father had told him. And he found himself developing a faith in that God and in those stories. He eventually escaped from the pirates and found his way home where he decided to study more about Christ.
After a number of years, Maewyn decided that God wanted him to carry his faith to people who didn’t know him – especially the people in the land of the pirates who had abducted him. He did just that and brought the Christian faith not just to one village, but to an entire country.
You might have guessed that Maewyn is actually the Patrick that we honor on St. Patrick’s Day. (His actual name was Maewyn Succat, and he later took the name Padraig, or Patrick.) Yes, he was kidnapped by pirates. He did find faith in Christ while he was enslaved. And after studying Christianity and becoming a Catholic priest, he returned to Ireland from his home in Britain. Whether or not he drove the snakes from Ireland is a matter of legend and debate, but it’s quite certain that he Christianized Ireland and is today regarded as that country’s greatest saint.
It would have been very easy for Patrick to have written off the people of Ireland after some of them had imprisoned him in slavery. But instead, he allowed the Holy Spirit to lead him back to the land of his captors in the hopes that they would embrace the same Lord who had saved him. And because of his faithful efforts, the Christian faith flourished throughout Ireland.
Today, make sure to wear some green. You might even eat some corned beef and cabbage. But give thanks for the life of St. Patrick, and learn something from his godly example. When people treat you badly, don’t repay their ungodliness with some of your own. Instead, show them the love of Christ and give them something and someone worth believing in.
Reflection copyright © 2017 Doug DeBolt.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.