For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.— Philippians 1:21
On this day that we celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, wearing green clothes, eating Corned Beef and Cabbage and maybe toasting a Guinness Stout or Irish Red Ale to this great man, I wonder if we know who we are celebrating and why? I looked this man up on the internet and found that Patrick, who was actually born in Scotland, was kidnapped as a young lad by a band of marauding pirates. These pirates bound Patrick, took him to Ireland, and sold him as a slave to a druid chieftain. Patrick said of this experience, “It was while I ate the bitter bread of that hateful servitude in a foreign land, that the light divine broke upon my benighted soul and I called to remembrance the holy things which I had been taught in my dear old home . . . ” Patrick’s heart was transformed, and he became a new creature in Jesus Christ. By faith in the Blessed Redeemer of mankind, by a trust in the blood shed for his sins, this young man in the depths and darkness of the forests of Ireland found the Savior of the world.
After six years of slavery, Patrick escaped. But he had vowed revenge—the noble revenge of sharing the Gospel with the very people who had held him captive. Patrick believed that God had called him to return to the land of his slavery and preach the Godpel. The Encyclopedia Britannica declares that Patrick himself baptized one hundred and twenty thousand persons. St. Patrick—echoing the apostle Paul, who said, “For me, to live is Christ”—said, “For me, life is Christ.”
St. Patrick was a saint in the only real sense of that word, made such because he was sanctified by God, by His Spirit, as he submitted himself wholly to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and received Him as Savior and Lord. He accomplished incredible things. This man was a great Christian missionary from England to Ireland. He brought the Gospel to the Emerald Isle and saw virtually the whole country converted under his ministry. St. Patrick was fearless and bold, and Christ was the source of his strength. He prayed something (in "the breastplate of St. Patrick") that we can all pray:
"I bind to myself this day to
The Power of His Incarnation,
The Power of His Crucifixion,
The Power of His Resurrection
With His Ascension.
Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in the hearts of all that love me,
Christ in the mouth of friend and stranger.
Christ is life. Christ is all in all. "For me to live is Christ."
That is the real meaning of St. Patrick’s Day.
In Christ, Brian
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