A Heart Like St. Patrick
My southern mama displayed a different front door wreath every month, depending on the holiday being celebrated. March’s wreath was always green and covered in paper shamrocks. We weren’t Irish, but I was sure to wear green on March 17th or I’d get pinched. And we always had corned beef and cabbage for dinner that night. That’s all I knew about St. Patrick’s Day as a child.
Since then, I’ve learned that Patrick was from Britain – a teenager taken from his family and forced to be a slave in Ireland. Today, we’d call that human trafficking. As a young man of faith, the story goes that he had a dream and believed God showed him a way of escape on a ship. I imagine the fear and anxiety, the heart-pounding voyage and the overwhelming sense of freedom once Patrick returned to his homeland. And yet, his story doesn’t end there.
Patrick came to believe God wanted him to return to Ireland and take the good news of the freedom found in Jesus back to the people who enslaved him. Crazy, right? I can’t imagine how he must have wrestled with that idea. But Patrick chose forgiveness and headed back to the land of his enemies. He’s a hero worthy of celebration.
Jesus taught us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44), to do good to those who hate us (Luke 6:27). And then he showed us what that looks like through his life, death and resurrection.
Now when March rolls around, I think less about the color green, shamrocks, corned beef and cabbage and more about my “enemies” who have wronged me somehow. I am reminded that they need to see the love of Jesus in my words and actions. Easy? Nope. Transformational? Absolutely!