Friday, March 15, 2019

St. Patrick's Confident Message in Dark Times

Saint Patrick was an important 5th century missionary to Ireland. In his day, civilization seemed to be collapsing. Yet, as the Romans withdrew from Britain and as pagans from Ireland, Scotland, and Germany began to raid and invade, Patrick was advancing forward with the gospel. Later in life, he saw these difficulties as signs of God's judgment - his people had ignored the warnings of their priests and fallen into ignorance and apathy. He had done the same as a youth, but when Patrick himself was taken captive by Irish raiders, this caused Patrick to reconsider the gospel he had heard and repent. He turned with all his heart to God. After six years in captivity he escaped, returning later to the land of his captivity as a missionary. Late in life, he wrote his Confession, in which he tells the story of his life. You can read it at this link. Just after recounting his conversion during his captivity he explains his motive for evangelism and describes the faith he preached. 
"That is why I cannot be silent – nor would it be good to do so – about such great blessings and such a gift that the Lord so kindly bestowed in the land of my captivity. This is how we can repay such blessings, when our lives change and we come to know God, to praise and bear witness to his great wonders before every nation under heaven. 
"This is because there is no other God, nor will there ever be, nor was there ever, except God the Father. He is the one who was not begotten, the one without a beginning, the one from whom all beginnings come, the one who holds all things in being – this is our teaching. And his son, Jesus Christ, whom we testify has always been, since before the beginning of this age, with the father in a spiritual way. He was begotten in an indescribable way before every beginning. Everything we can see, and everything beyond our sight, was made through him. He became a human being; and, having overcome death, was welcomed to the heavens to the Father. The Father gave him all power over every being, both heavenly and earthly and beneath the earth. Let every tongue confess that Jesus Christ, in whom we believe and whom we await to come back to us in the near future, is Lord and God. He is judge of the living and of the dead; he rewards every person according to their deeds. He has generously poured on us the Holy Spirit, the gift and promise of immortality, who makes believers and those who listen to be children of God and co-heirs with Christ. This is the one we acknowledge and adore – one God in a trinity of the sacred name."
May the gratefulness that inspired Patrick give us also the confidence to bear witness to the great wonders of our God. May the message of the triune God and his salvation that Patrick preached be believed and proclaimed by the church today. Even if we face difficulties, may we be confident that Christ will continue to preserve and expand his gospel reign even in the midst of dark times.

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