Romans 5:8, 10
Do you do anything that celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Some people might wear an article of green clothing. Some people might decorate their houses or office space with pictures of shamrocks or of leprechauns. Some people might go and enjoy a green beer. But I’m going to offer a suggestion of something totally wild and crazy for St. Patrick’s Day. Something that would actually honor the memory of missionary pastor Patrick and that would be to show concern, compassion, kindness, selfless love even for someone that might consider themselves to be your enemy.
St. Patrick, when he was a youth he was abducted. He was kidnapped by Irish pirates, marauders, who were coming to pillage villages. They took him back and they enslaved him and he served as a slave to these barbarians for six years. As a young man he was able to escape and he got on board a boat and went back home to Britain. But there he decided that he wanted to become a pastor, a priest. So he studied for the priesthood. And he became a priest.
But then he had a compassion, he had a concern even for those people who had kidnapped him and enslaved him. Knowing their native tongue he decided that he wanted to go back and share the peace that he had with those people who had previously been so cruel and harsh to him. Those who had been his enemies.
And so he went and we hear many pious legends about Patrick and what he did in Ireland. But the truth of the matter is he went and he showed tremendous compassion, concern, kindness, selfless love even for these people who had been terrible to him. What would drive a person to do that? To love one’s enemy. To pray for those who would persecute you. Well, what was it that drove Patrick? And then also could motivate us to show love even to our enemies? Reminds me of a verse that St. Paul wrote in Romans chapter 5 he puts it this way.
God shows his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us… while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son. (Romans 5:8, 10)
God showed his great love for us who because of our sinful nature had made ourselves enemies with him. Who because of our sinful nature were hostile to him. He showed his great love for us by sending us a Savior his Son Jesus. Who came into this world, who lived for us, in our place, who went to the cross, and even as he’s being nailed to the cross he’s praying for those who were nailing him to the cross. Father forgive them. He had love, he had compassion and concern for his enemies, for you and me included. With his resurrection from the dead he proclaims his love to us. He proclaims that we are no longer his enemies, but we are instead now his brothers and sisters.
You and I have peace with God thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ. And that’s what then enables us to go and have peace even with those who might be hostile towards us. We can go and show love even to our enemies because we first of all, like Patrick, know the love that God has for us.
So on this St. Patrick’s Day what will you do to celebrate? Maybe something as wild and crazy as Patrick himself. Go and show love, to have compassion, concern, show kindness even to those out there who might be your enemies.
Lord we thank you for loving us though we were by nature your enemies. Help us to have hearts of love for all the people around us. Amen. God’s peace be with you.