Shall we skip our fast for St. Patrick’s Day? Perhaps lay off just a little? At first glance it doesn’t seem like a good day to fast – there are too many shamrock milkshakes to drink and green cookies to eat! But it doesn’t take much digging to see that the real Patrick understood what we’re exploring in this fast.
Patrick learned how to let go at an early age. When he was about 16, Patrick was captured by Irish pirates and carried away from his home in Britain to the foreign land of Ireland where he worked as a slave for about 6 years, until he miraculously escaped and returned to his family. A few years later, God led him back to the land of his captivity, which, as you can imagine, would have required a pretty big change of heart. This time, he returned not as a captive but as one captivated by the God of love and as one who embraced radical forgiveness. He let go of the need for retribution, and instead, extended mercy. Because of this turning, he experienced amazing things in his life – which you can read about elsewhere. He became a primary figure in Celtic Christianity, which was marked by authentic community, savouring the joys of connecting with God through creation and relishing the simple life in working monastic communities.
In your life, what would it look like to embrace the radical forgiveness and letting go that Patrick demonstrated? What does Patrick’s life model for us in this fast? Perhaps we can see past the green shamrocks of St. Patrick’s Day, and glimpse a life that embraced the “more” of the gospel.