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
Azariah stood in the heart of the fire, and he began to pray:
Oh! Do not abandon us for ever,
for the sake of your name;
do not repudiate your covenant,
do not withdraw your favour from us,
for the sake of Abraham, your friend,
of Isaac your servant,
and of Israel your holy one,
to whom you promised descendants as countless as the stars of heaven
and as the grains of sand on the seashore.
Lord, now we are the least of all the nations,
now we are despised throughout the world, today, because of our sins.
We have at this time no leader, no prophet, no prince,
no holocaust, no sacrifice, no oblation, no incense,
no place where we can offer you the first-fruits
and win your favour.
But may the contrite soul, the humbled spirit be as acceptable to you
as holocausts of rams and bullocks,
as thousands of fattened lambs:
such let our sacrifice be to you today,
and may it be your will that we follow you wholeheartedly,
since those who put their trust in you will not be disappointed.
And now we put our whole heart into following you,
into fearing you and seeking your face once more.
Do not disappoint us;
treat us gently, as you yourself are gentle
and very merciful.
Grant us deliverance worthy of your wonderful deeds,
let your name win glory, Lord.
Peter went up to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.
‘And so the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who decided to settle his accounts with his servants. When the reckoning began, they brought him a man who owed ten thousand talents; but he had no means of paying, so his master gave orders that he should be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, to meet the debt. At this, the servant threw himself down at his master’s feet. “Give me time” he said “and I will pay the whole sum.” And the servant’s master felt so sorry for him that he let him go and cancelled the debt. Now as this servant went out, he happened to meet a fellow servant who owed him one hundred denarii; and he seized him by the throat and began to throttle him. “Pay what you owe me” he said. His fellow servant fell at his feet and implored him, saying, “Give me time and I will pay you.” But the other would not agree; on the contrary, he had him thrown into prison till he should pay the debt. His fellow servants were deeply distressed when they saw what had happened, and they went to their master and reported the whole affair to him. Then the master sent for him. “You wicked servant,” he said “I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?” And in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt. And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart.’
“… forgive your brother from your heart.”
Is it possible to forgive someone who has stepped on your toes for the umpteenth time and never apologised, even though you try to explain to him or her what he or she did wrong to you? Even when he or she apologises, you know that it may not be a sincere apology because he or she may do it again in the future.
Today’s world will tell us that it is important to love ourselves, and since people who are unapologetic are regarded as ‘toxic’ or ‘negative’, therefore, to avoid such ‘negative’ people, we should cut them out of our life. This way, we can protect ourselves and make ourselves happy. After all, there would be no more people stepping on our toes, right?
But, I don’t think that was what Jesus meant when he talked about forgiveness. When the soldiers crucified Him, He did not banish them from sight. Nor did he entirely ignore Pontius Pilate when He was being sentenced to death. I think He was silently praying for their forgiveness from our Father and their conversion from sin as well. This would probably explain why his last words were, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
So, forgiving does not necessarily mean avoiding people who have hurt us. It does not mean that we retaliate against people who have wounded us. Instead, forgiveness is when we continue treating people who have hurt us the same way we treat our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who have not hurt us. Forgiveness also means that we pray for them and bless them.
For Paul said in Romans 12:14, “Bless those who hurt you.”
(Today’s Oxygen by Brenda Khoo)
Prayer: Lord, please pray for us to be able to forgive those who have hurt us from the bottom of our hearts. Amen.
Thanksgiving: Dear Lord, thank you for granting us the ability to forgive others even when we are hurt by them. Amen.