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By Fr. Joseph, MIC (Mar 13, 2009)
Readings: Gen 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-28; Mt 21:33-43, 45-46
They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. Gen 37:28
It is interesting that the Old Testament reading of Joseph being sold into slavery falls just a few days before St. Patrick's Day. Both these men were slaves who ended up saving others — Patrick brought the Christian faith to the Irish while Joseph saved his people from famine. Many people may not know that St. Patrick was probably born in England, not Ireland. In fact, he first became associated with Ireland when, at the age of 16, he was carried off to this country as a slave. It was during his six years of captivity, however, that his faith began to blossom.
This time of captivity would later prove providential as well for the people of Ireland. For, it was after he had escaped and returned to his native Britain, that he heard in a dream the voice of the Irish saying, "Boy, come and walk among us once more!" (Confessions of St Patrick, 23). With that prompting, he returned to his former place of captivity to preach the Gospel as a priest. Saint Patrick labored for 30 years in Ireland to promote the Christian faith amidst difficult conditions. But his resolve to complete his mission is evident in words that he recorded in his autobiographical confessions:"Regardless of danger, I must make known the gift of God."
It is a shame that many people, especially in the Western world, wrongly take advantage of this day as an excuse for drunkenness and frivolity. In doing so, they fail to appreciate that the Church has set aside March 17 as a time to honor a great man who, due to his sacrifices, is primarily responsible for the conversion of the entire country of Ireland. Saint Patrick is understood to be the Father of the Irish faith because he let his faith grow in adversity. His life serves as an inspiration for us to seek the more difficult path that leads to eternal life.
Lord Jesus, thank You for the inspiring life of St. Patrick. Through his example guide me to a deeper faith, so I may be an effective apostle in the world. Amen.