17 Mar – Memorial for St. Patrick, bishop
St. Patrick (387-390 – 461-464) was kidnapped from the British mainland when he was about 16, and shipped to Ireland as a slave. He was sent to the mountains as a shepherd, and spent his time in prayer. After six years of this life, he had a dream in which he was commanded to return to Britain. Seeing it as a sign, he escaped.
He studied in several monasteries in Europe. He was a priest, then a bishop. He was sent by Pope St. Celestine to evangelize England, then Ireland, during which his chariot driver was St. Odran, and St. Jarlath was one of his spiritual students.
In 33 years, he effectively converted Ireland. In the Middle Ages, Ireland become known as the ‘Land of Saints’, and during the Dark Ages, its monasteries were the great repositories of learning in Europe, all a consequence of Patrick’s ministry.
Christ shield me this day:
Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me
– Saint Patrick, from his breastplate
- Patron Saint Index
Israel loved Joseph more than all his other sons, for he was the son of his old age, and he had a coat with long sleeves made for him. But his brothers, seeing how his father loved him more than all his other sons, came to hate him so much that they could not say a civil word to him.
His brothers went to pasture their father’s flock at Shechem. Then Israel said to Joseph, ‘Are not your brothers with the flock at Shechem? Come, I am going to send you to them.’ So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.
They saw him in the distance, and before he reached them they made a plot among themselves to put him to death. ‘Here comes the man of dreams’ they said to one another. ‘Come on, let us kill him and throw him into some well; we can say that a wild beast devoured him. Then we shall see what becomes of his dreams.’
But Reuben heard, and he saved him from their violence. ‘We must not take his life’ he said. ‘Shed no blood,’ said Reuben to them ‘throw him into this well in the wilderness, but do not lay violent hands on him’ – intending to save him from them and to restore him to his father. So, when Joseph reached his brothers, they pulled off his coat, the coat with long sleeves that he was wearing, and catching hold of him they threw him into the well, an empty well with no water in it. They then sat down to eat.
Looking up they saw a group of Ishmaelites who were coming from Gilead, their camels laden with gum, tragacanth, balsam and resin, which they were taking down into Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What do we gain by killing our brother and covering up his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let us not do any harm to him. After all, he is our brother, and our own flesh.’ His brothers agreed.
Now some Midianite merchants were passing, and they drew Joseph up out of the well. They sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty silver pieces, and these men took Joseph to Egypt.
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people, ‘Listen to another parable. There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard; he fenced it round, dug a winepress in it and built a tower; then he leased it to tenants and went abroad. When vintage time drew near he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his servants, thrashed one, killed another and stoned a third. Next he sent some more servants, this time a larger number, and they dealt with them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them. “They will respect my son” he said. But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, “This is the heir. Come on, let us kill him and take over his inheritance.” So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?’ They answered, ‘He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will deliver the produce to him when the season arrives.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the scriptures:
It was the stone rejected by the builders
that became the keystone.
This was the Lord’s doing
and it is wonderful to see?
‘I tell you, then, that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.’
When they heard his parables, the chief priests and the scribes realised he was speaking about them, but though they would have liked to arrest him they were afraid of the crowds, who looked on him as a prophet.
“This was the Lord’s doing and it is wonderful to see”
As a parent, we often cringe when we see our children make decisions which we think may not be correct. We jump in, trying hard to guide them into making right ones, cajoling, encouraging and sometimes even threatening them; then sit back when they see the folly of their potentially (wrong) decisions.
Yet, it is not possible to do so, especially when they become older. Many times, they will willfully disregard your counsel and insist on their ways. For the ‘tiger parents’ among us, this would probably end up in very robust confrontations and fights. How difficult it is being parents!
What struck me about today’s gospel is that we have a God who does not do that. Whatever our decision and thoughts, God’s voice comes in a whisper through the Holy Spirit and we are free to do whatever we decide, guided by our conscience.
Another thing that struck me was in the first reading, which relates how Joseph came to be sold into slavery into Egypt.
Beginning as a slave, Joseph ended up becoming a very powerful man in Egypt, second only to the Pharoah. He certainly did not have the smoothest of paths getting there. He did not have vast riches in the beginning and had to endure many hardships.
Similarly, doing God’s will does not ensure that everything will be given us automatically. Success does not mean that God would give us vast amounts of wealth and power. Success should not equate to a smooth road, and it does not mean that without these, we are not blessed by Him.
Let us pray to our Father God, that we would always be open to His guidance and gentle cajoling, and that whatever our circumstances, we have been given the gift of eternal life. Whatever station we find ourselves in life, we must remember that we are blessed with His love.
(Today’s Oxygen by Paul Wee)
Prayer – Lord, help us to believe and depend on You completely. We pray that we will exercise our free will responsibly and with love.
Thanksgiving – Thank you Father, for allowing us to make our own choices. Thank you for being there, whatever the circumstances, as You were there with Joseph as he lived his life in slavery.