“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
— Philippians 1:21
St. Patrick, “the patron saint of Ireland,” has captured the fancy of millions of people through the ages. Even those who haven’t a clue what the man really stood for pay him tribute on this day by marching in parades and wearing green. Some people even get drunk to celebrate the occasion, but these people dishonor the memory of that great man who first brought Christianity to Ireland.
Patrick, who was actually born in Scotland, was kidnapped as a young lad by a band of marauding pirates. These pirates bound Patrick, took him to Ireland, and sold him as a slave to a druid chieftain. Patrick said of this experience, “It was while I ate the bitter bread of that hateful servitude in a foreign land, that the light divine broke upon my benighted soul and I called to remembrance the holy things which I had been taught in my dear old home . . . ” Patrick’s heart was transformed, and he became a new creature in Jesus Christ. By faith in the Redeemer, by a trust in the blood shed for his sins, this young man in the depths and darkness of the forests of Ireland found the Savior of the world.
After six years of slavery, Patrick escaped. But he had vowed revenge—the noble revenge of sharing the Gospel with the very people who had held him captive. Patrick believed that God had called him to return to the land of his slavery. The Encyclopedia Britannica declares that Patrick himself baptized one hundred and twenty thousand persons.
St. Patrick—echoing the apostle Paul, who said, “For me, to live is Christ”—said, “For me, life is Christ.” If you would know life to its fullest, then you, too, would echo what St. Patrick came to learn—that to live is Christ—that life is Christ.
How can you live your life for Christ on this St. Patrick’s Day?