Yeah. I'm Irish. And today? She is St. Patrick's Day!
Now I hate to admit this [on this day of all days], but I'm not Catholic and that is a terrible blow to many an Irishman right there. But I have good company in my fellow Irishman, C. S. Lewis, who also loved Jesus, so I will not cry too hard.
The Irish were, essentially, a crazy people who were tamed by Christ, if you know your history. And if you know it well enough, you might see that they were even responsible for saving Western civilization with their devotion to preserving the Bible.
You can read more here: How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill .
But the man who saved them? He was their enemy at first. A sixteen year old boy was captured by Irish slavers and served his masters for six years before escaping; it was a journey of two hundred miles just to get to the SHIP to go home!
Those six years were important though; they made him grow up spiritually. From his Confessions we read:
But after I reached Hibernia I used to pasture the flock each day and I used to pray many times a day. More and more did the Love of God, and my fear of Him and faith increase, and my spirit was moved so that in a day [I said] from one up to a hundred prayers, and in the night a like number; besides I used to stay out in the forests and on the mountain and I would wake up before daylight to pray in the snow, in icy coldness, in rain, and I used to feel neither ill nor any slothfulness, because, as I now see, the Spirit was burning in me at that time.
He knew God had preserved his life and was glad to be home again... and then, like Joseph, he had a vision in a dream of a man telling him to come back to Ireland, to "walk among us."
So Patrick did.
The Irish, being a direct, flamboyant, and even brutal people when they felt it necessary, coming from the lineage of Picts and Vikings, repented when this young man returned; even as he spent his life transforming Ireland, bit by bit, never marrying, but starting monastery after monastery, fighting constantly against the slavery and brutality of his new homeland, returning monetary gifts if it impinged on his ministry. He was a true socially conscious and evangelical missionary.
He made Ireland what it is today, frankly.
So when you lift up a pint of green beer or wear something green to honor the Irish today, do keep in your mind's eye a scared teenager who shook off the bitterness of his youth to save a people - and a civilization - God called him to save.
He did it by the Spirit of God, not by his own power. He knew that more than anybody.
And I think even Jesus would appreciate you celebrating one of his finest saints.
Because we probably wouldn't be HERE if he hadn't done his work for God THEN.
Happy St. Patrick's Day, indeed.