I find myself often feeling like an outsider, having to learn a new culture and language. It always demands a leaning in, a listening, and a willingness to make mistakes and be corrected. Being a stranger in the land can seem as a deficit, but it can also be a great gift. It can be very humbling to be led by the hand, slowly, rolling new sounds around as we stumble in unfamiliar landscapes. It is one of God's great gifts, I have found, to have to navigate anew, to have to be a student while teaching, to be wholly another while we are welcomed in.
St. Patrick was born in Britain and captured by Irish pirates as a teen, where he was brought to Ireland, sold as a slave and tended sheep. He eventually escaped only to return to Ireland as a bishop, bringing the good news of the Gospel. He is credited with "indigenizing" the church, honoring the heart and spirit of the people so they could make Christianity their own. His love for God and his willingness to be an outsider, compassionately returning to the place of his slavery with God's love for the people, has made him a beloved saint and a model for us all.
Today I ask God to give me the strength to live as Patrick did. May we all love the people we serve so much that we honor their traditions and customs while sharing the gifts of God's love. May we be transformed by compassion, returning to our challenging places, so God love and healing might flow.
Almighty God, in your providence you chose your servant Patrick to be the apostle of the Irish people, to bring those who were wandering in darkness and error to the true light and knowledge of you: Grant us so to walk in that light that we may come at last to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.