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
The Lord revealed it to me; I was warned.
O Lord, that was when you opened my eyes to their scheming. I for my part was like a trustful lamb being led to the slaughter-house, not knowing the schemes they were plotting against me, ‘Let us destroy the tree in its strength, let us cut him off from the land of the living, so that his name may be quickly forgotten!’
But you, the Lord of Hosts, who pronounce a just sentence,
who probe the loins and heart,
let me see the vengeance you will take on them,
for I have committed my cause to you.
Several people who had been listening to Jesus said, ‘Surely he must be the prophet’, and some said, ‘He is the Christ’, but others said, ‘Would the Christ be from Galilee? Does not scripture say that the Christ must be descended from David and come from the town of Bethlehem?’ So the people could not agree about him. Some would have liked to arrest him, but no one actually laid hands on him.
The police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees who said to them, ‘Why haven’t you brought him?’ The police replied, ‘There has never been anybody who has spoken like him.’ ‘So’ the Pharisees answered ‘you have been led astray as well? Have any of the authorities believed in him? Any of the Pharisees? This rabble knows nothing about the Law – they are damned.’ One of them, Nicodemus – the same man who had come to Jesus earlier – said to them, ‘But surely the Law does not allow us to pass judgement on a man without giving him a hearing and discovering what he is about?’ To this they answered, ‘Are you a Galilean too? Go into the matter, and see for yourself: prophets do not come out of Galilee.’
…not knowing the schemes they were plotting against me…
As the ‘official’ spokesperson of our university, I sometimes find myself caught in situations where I have to manage two differing opinions or points of view in order to present a more balanced view or position to the media or the public. Thankfully, most times, the solution(s) end up being acceptable to all parties involved and we move on. However, I recently found myself in a situation which made me start to question my own abilities as a leader. Effectively, I was ‘betrayed’ by someone who I had thought I was helping over the past year.
In trying to help an underperforming senior staff understand his errors and coach him out of his rather ‘warped’ way of approaching work and leadership, I cited a lot of my own personal experiences and inevitably exposed myself a bit too much, especially when I got a bit passionate about his weaknesses and lack of certain qualities which I expected from a supposedly seasoned professional. To cut a long story short, HR is now involved as there has now been feedback about me to my boss.
I truly never expected such a slap in the face from someone I thought I was helping. How could I have been so naïve?! Especially having come across such situations when I was living in Dubai a decade ago. But lo and behold, it is when people are desperate and grasping at straws that they forget all about professional courtesy and decency. Whether they have been ill-advised or are acting out of sheer desperation, it brought to my mind some appreciation of how Jesus must have felt being betrayed by Judas and all of those who had a hand in his crucifixion. The best part is that Jesus knew exactly what He was getting himself into whereas we never do.
Brothers and sisters, we must never let such setbacks deter us from opening our hearts to others. Painful as it may be, the sting of betrayal can never be soothed by revenge. Instead, we must don the breastplate of faith and accept that as we journey with our wounded brothers and sisters, we must be prepared to face arrows, daggers, even bullets shot at us by those who may not be as ‘mature’ as we think.
Because if Jesus could forgive every one of us, who are we to condemn others who we deem ‘unworthy’? Can we, in good conscience, condemn those who hurt us? Or should we instead continue praying for them so that they may be redeemed?
(Today’s OXYGEN by Desmond Soon)
Prayer: Father, give us a heart that is filled with love, mercy and compassion for our brothers and sisters who are themselves wounded by pride and envy.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Jesus, for always showing us the depths of your love.