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Glorious St Patrick

Perhaps it's the lack of any Irish in the community, or the fact that today's commemoration is Collect only, but it is difficult to get excited about St Patrick this morning. He seems "long ago and far away". That is not the case with all saints. Indeed, there are many who lived long before Patrick who seem much closer. Think of Peter, for example. One feels he could step into the room at any moment, poor wobbly Peter, with his frequent misunderstandings and warm heart, who followed the Lord even to the point of crucifixion. Or how about Polycarp, or Felicity and Perpetua? It is not a fair comparison, of course, because we have the New Testament to tell us about Peter and some dramatic accounts of their martyrdoms for the others.

What history fails to record, legend often supplies. There are some good stories about St Patrick, but even so, this morning they fail to stir. We are at that point of Lent where we seem to have been trekking across the interior desert for ages and the way ahead stretches long and lonely before us. Excellent! Lent is doing its work. It is making us more sensitive to God and hopefully to others also. It is making us confront the fact of sin and forgiveness and the bleakness of our inner landscape. It is not enough, however, to lament our fallen state. We are meant to do something about it.

St Patrick was moved by the plight of his captors to spend the rest of his life trying to win them for God. He could do that only because he had experienced the power of God's forgiveness in his own life and was therefore able to forgive those who had injured him. Forgiveness spurred him to action. We too have been forgiven, but do we pass that forgiveness on? Or are we "hearers of the word only?"