The earliest accounts suggest Patrick was a truly godly man, even if he wasn’t strictly Irish but a sort of unwilling ‘blow-in’ at first. Despite that, Ireland owes him and others a debt of gratitude for bringing the positive message of Jesus to these shores in the fifth century AD. It’s worth noting how in turn, Celtic Christian communities kept learning and hope alive during the Dark Ages.
I had a wee Google to see what else happened in history on this date and discovered a couple of less happy events.
During this week in March 1190 a group of Crusaders massacred Jewish residents in York, England who refused to convert to Christianity and be baptised.
Later that same year the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick 1st drowned while crossing a river in Turkey enroute for Jerusalem during the 3rd Crusade.
Poetic, or even divine justice maybe?
Time and again throughout history the message of grace gets tangled up with partisan, racist politics or material ambition with tragic and shameful results (Ireland no exception).
I was reading earlier today how when they came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and Peter zealously rose to defend Him, the Lord said, ‘Put your sword back in its place, for all who live by the sword will die by the sword.’(Matthew 26 v 52) Jesus healed the enemy Peter had injured and next day from the very cross prayed ‘Father forgive…’ for His executioners. There’s the example. I guess Frederick and other misguided souls forgot that bit.
So as a Christian, would I want everyone to trust and follow Jesus? Absolutely!
Am I going to try and make them do so by force? No.
But maybe Christians might better persuade others to consider our Master with words and actions of unselfish kindness and love. The kind of battles won in prayer and humble service.
I think Patrick would approve.
On his day, and every day, he would want us to follow Christ.
Captain Dara Fitzpatrick