Ephesians 5:1-2 – Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Cal’s son was kidnapped from his home around the young age of 15. Cal was a deacon and his father was a priest, but kidnapping pirates don’t care about things like that. Cal’s son was imprisoned on a boat bound for Ireland and was considered lost to his family.
Upon reaching the Irish coast, he was moved 200 miles inland where he labored as a slave and sheep herder for the next six years. That’s when things changed – he received a vision detailing a plan of escape from his captivity. Taking that plan to heart, Cal’s son broke away from his captors, traveled back across those 200 miles, and boarded a ship headed back to his homeland.
He had left his home as a teenager uncommitted to his faith, but as he returned that changed as well. Cal’s son had embraced his Christian faith during his imprisonment, and he quickly followed in the family footsteps and became a priest. Interestingly, Cal’s son soon felt his heart began to ache. He was being drawn back to the land of his captors on a mission to convert the people of Ireland.
Change doesn’t always come easy. Pagan Ireland at this time was ruled by a pagan king who didn’t take kindly to the idea of Christianity. Cal’s son was often threatened with his life for his efforts, but even the danger he faced couldn’t stop his faithful and obedient work. History is conflicting on whether the king was ever converted, but it is recorded that several of his family members were baptized by the young priest during his missional work in Ireland. Cal’s son was responsible for baptizing and ordaining priests, erecting schools, building monasteries, and converting thousands of people to the Christian faith.
Today, there are many stories and legends surrounding Calpurnius´ (Cal’s) son – the son we call St. Patrick. Shamrocks, snakes and the color green are all part of the tales but have very little to do with historical accounts. What is certain is that the country of Ireland was converted to Christianity due greatly to St. Patrick’s efforts. His willingness to walk in love mimicked the way Jesus Christ loved.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love.” Paul’s letter to the people in Ephesus was written while Paul was imprisoned – only 400 years prior to Patrick’s imprisonment. Huge changes had taken place during that short period. Knitting was invented, and smallpox wiped out communities. Memorable leaders include Nero, Ptolemy, Constantine, Augustine and Attila. Use of paper, paved roads, blown glass, concrete and bricks became widespread. Yet, one thing remained constant that continues to this day: love. Love of God, love of others, love of self – all exercises in imitating God and following the teaching of Jesus. From Paul to Patrick to people of today, love binds us.
During Lent this year – and particularly on this Saint Patrick’s Day – may I spend time remembering the binding of all Christians. Binding not as imprisonment, but binding the fellowship together with the chords of love.
Slán agus beannacht,
PRAYER FROM EPHESIANS 5
Loving God, help me to love others in a way that is generous and kind, sacrificial and powerful. Lay my mission clearly before me, and be near me each step. Even when it doesn’t feel safe, bind me with your love so that I may imitate you; and may I always be willing to walk in love. Amen.