Reflection for Sunday March 17, 2019: 2nd Week of Lent.
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"If they can dye this river green today, why can't they dye it blue the other 364 days of the year?" This question, asked by one of the U.S. Marshals in the movie, "The Fugitive," always makes me chuckle. The setting for the movie is Chicago and the Chicago River is dyed green for St. Patrick's Day. For a lot of people, St. Patrick's Day is corned beef and cabbage (or a Reuben sandwich, if you can find a decent one), green beer or a Guinness, wearing something green, and a parade. None of that is bad per se. In fact, this year March the 17th falls on a Sunday in Lent. Sundays in Lent are feast days. It seems appropriate to celebrate on that day with some good food and drink.|Even non-Catholics can and do embrace the cultural manifestations of St. Patrick's Day. I grew up a Protestant and didn't know anything about Catholics but I knew about St. Patrick. In fact, when I got old enough to recognize that his feast day was on March the 17th, I was disappointed that I was born two days late for it. At the time I didn't realize that St. Joseph, who is celebrated on my birthday (ahem), was sort of a big deal in his own right.|Since March the 17th is on a Sunday, we celebrate the Second Sunday of Lent and not St. Patrick's Day. The readings are definitely Lenten but I think that St. Patrick would like them. In the Genesis reading, God makes a covenant with Abram that his descendents will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. How many Christians have had a bigger influence on generations to come than St. Patrick? He was a person of faith and his spiritual descendents cannot be counted.|St. Patrick was a model for those who would come after him in the faith. St. Paul tells the Philippians that modeling the faith is so important because there are those who "conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ." Their desire is for material gain and earthly satisfaction only. St. Patrick was kidnapped and basically enslaved at age 16. Later, when he wanted to take the Gospel to Ireland, his missionary plans were opposed. In his Confession, he mentions twelve near-death experiences. He endured insults, persecution, imprisonment, and slander. Before he died, his character was questioned; he is motivated by greed, they said. Yet, if you want to know what it looks like to trust in God, look at St. Patrick.|Finally, the story of the transfiguration of Jesus sheds light on why St. Patrick was so successful. The voice from the cloud told the disciples, "This is my chosen Son; listen to him." This is what St. Patrick did; in the midst of criticism, slander, and hate - he listened to Jesus. Consider his words from section 34 of his Confession:|So I'll never stop giving thanks to my God, who kept me faithful in the time of my temptation. I can today with confidence offer my soul to Christ my Lord as a living victim. He is the one who defended me in all my difficulties. I can say: Who am I, Lord, or what is my calling, that you have worked with me with such divine presence? This is how I come to praise and magnify your name among the nations all the time, wherever I am, not only in good times but in the difficult times too. Whatever comes about for me, good or bad, I ought to accept them equally and give thanks to God. He has shown me that I can put my faith in him without wavering and without end.|St. Patrick, pray for us.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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