Next Wednesday we keep the feast of St. Patrick. Although we are not sure of the exact place of his birth, though it must have been in a Romano-British settlement, we do know about his capture by Irish pirates and his return to Ireland to preach the gospel. Which if you think about it was quite a courageous thing to do. It would have been easy for Patrick to return to what he knew and put his enforced ‘holiday’ behind him. But he didn’t, he realised that God was calling him back this time voluntarily. The same sort of thing holds for the lovely story ‘Quo Vadis’, which tells of St. Peter turning back to Rome, to his martyrdom because he realised that was what God wanted.
Patrick like all the saints gives us an example of someone following God’s will. The key thing is that he, and they, realised that their lives were not solely their own affair to do with as they liked. God had other things in mind for them. And the same is true of us. We can spend a lot of time and energy, like Jonah, running away from what God wants us to do. If we love him we will eventually come to see that his ways are better than ours and that in following his will we find true and lasting happiness.
St. Patrick is a useful saint to celebrate in Lent. During that season we try to free ourselves from self-will and self-seeking. Patrick will pray for us as we try to find out where God wants us to be and what he wants us to do.