On Monday we celebrate the feast of St. David, the patron saint of Wales. We know a fair bit about David and the number of churches dotted over Wales and beyond is a vivid testimony to the high regard in which he was and still is held. We know that he was renowned for his hard penitential practices and austere life style, so it’s something of surprise to find that probably his most famous saying is ‘Be joyful, keep the faith’. The first part at least might gives us cause to pause and reflect.
All too often the gospel can be presented as ‘bad’ news. Religious people always run the risk of wanting to censure and condemn others. Having access to the fullness of truth can, if we’re not careful, make us very judgmental. Saint David’s little saying reminds us of the fact the faith and joy go hand in hand. If they don’t then there’s something wrong.
St. David’s day nearly always falls in Lent. And he can therefore be a saint who reminds us of the true meaning of penance. We don’t do penance to punish ourselves but rather to open ourselves up to God’s grace. As we are more filled with that we will find that we are more filled with joy and charity. Those are the things that endeared David to his flock, and those are the things that will attract people to Christ in our own day.