Saturday, March 16, 2013

An Unusual Apostle

Shamrock CrossHis father was a deacon in the local parish. His grandfather was a pastor. They shared the Gospel of Jesus with him from the very beginning of his life. They modeled what it meant to be a disciple of Jesus.

When he was sixteen, he was kidnapped by a raiding party from across the sea. He was sold into slavery and languished in a foreign land far from home for six years.

But he never gave up his faith in Jesus. He prayed every day. He worshiped Christ as best he could where he was.

One night, he had a dream and in that dream he was told, “You will soon return home. I will give you safe passage on a ship on the eastern shore. I will come back again and tell you when.”

This gave him hope. This gave him strength to carry on.

He waited, worked “through snow and frost and rain,” and waited some more. Then one night, the dream returned, “It is time. Go, now!”

He ran away from his masters, made his way 200 miles across this foreign land to the eastern shore. He soon found a ship bound for the east and for home. Soon he was back in his father’s house. He had been saved. He was home.

Then one night, he had another dream. The voice was back. He would later write in his autobiography:

I saw a man coming as if from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: "The Voice of the Irish". As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Focluth, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.

This is the story of the early life of Saint Patrick, Apostle to Ireland.

While much of his life is the stuff of legend and, I suspect, much of it is mythological, it is nevertheless an adventure of a life based in the foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Every man, woman, and child who have been baptized into Christ are called by Christ to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. Baptized into Christ is to be a member of the Christian Church. To be a member of the Christian Church is to be on  a mission to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Like Patrick, we are called to share the Gospel. For most of us, we are called to share where we are. We don’t have to be missionary or a pastor or some kind of professional Gospel-teller. We simply have to accept the Gospel as it comes to us and then live the Gospel that dwells in us.

Many of us are looking for – at some time or another – some kind of adventure to live. The greatest adventure is the one God calls all of us to live: living in His Kingdom, going where He leads, and sharing the Gospel with those He leads to us.

I hope you’ll find that adventure to live today, remembering the adventure that is St. Patrick’s life.

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