Before this week I could have told you everything I knew about St. Patrick’s Day in less than thirty seconds.
Start your stopwatch, because here we go:
1. McDonald’s sells a shamrock shake.
2. People drink lots of green beer.
3. There’s a parade every ten feet.
4. Lucky Charms are magically delicious.
Not much to work with, right?
I also knew there were some movies made about a scary leprechaun a few years ago, and my family used to use Irish Spring soap, but that was the extent of my St. Patrick’s Day knowledge.
Given my ignorance of all things Irish and green, I decided to educate myself with some online research.
All I really wanted to know was – “Who was St. Patrick and what was his deal?”
I found out from my totally reliable sources on the Internet that there are a bunch of stories and traditions about St. Patrick, but only a couple of things most people can agree on for sure.
1. Patrick was an Englishman who was kidnapped by Irish soldiers, taken back to Ireland and forced into slavery.
2. After escaping from his captors and returning to his homeland, he decided to go back to Ireland and spend the rest of his life trying to share the love of God with the very people who had enslaved him.
When I read that, I thought, wow, no wonder this guy gets his own holiday. If someone had kidnapped and enslaved me, the last thing I would want to do is go back and help them.
Even if I could be so noble as not to demand justice or revenge, I, at least, would not want to see their ugly faces. And I certainly wouldn’t run around wearing green.
It’s not that I’m big on grudges. I just don’t like to forgive people who’ve been mean to me.
Anybody remember Jonah? When God tried to send him to take a message of mercy to his enemies, the Ninevites, he turned around and ran the other way. That’s how he ended up in the belly of a fish, and I probably would have been stuck in there with him.
But not Patrick. He was compelled by a love that went beyond forgiving his enemy. He actually wanted them to know the same grace he had experienced. He apparently spent the rest of his life serving the people who had caused him so much trouble.
Jesus said something about loving your enemy and praying for those who hurt you. Sounds like Patrick was naive enough to actually take him up on it.
Maybe for those of us who aren’t Irish or don’t know that much about St. Patrick’s Day, we can celebrate this year by simply following Patrick’s example. Maybe we could find someone who has injured us and look for some way to show them kindness. It doesn’t mean we have to trust them again or give them an opportunity to do us more harm, but we could just bless them with some love and call it good.
So send a note, make a phone call or share a bowl of Lucky Charms. Maybe, like Patrick, you’ll make peace with an old enemy. Or at the very least, they may turn green with envy over the grace that flows so freely from your life.