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Why we need to follow in the footsteps of St Patrick to find God

By Fr Patrick McCafferty, Corpus Christi Parish, Belfast

St Patrick, whose feast-day we celebrate on Friday, sums up his life and mission to Ireland as undertaken "for the sake of the indescribable glory of eternal life which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Letter to Coroticus, 10).

The "indescribable glory of eternal life" is the destiny of every Christian - the goal of our journey - both individually and collectively. Indeed, it is a beautiful description of the end of all history and the destiny of the entire human family when, through Jesus Christ, "God will be all in all" (I Cor 15:28).

The theme of journeying is woven into the season of Lent and, on the second Sunday of Lent, the scriptures trace for us the journeys of Abram, Paul, Peter, James and John.

Abram (Gen 12:1-4), is invited to leave all that is familiar and set out into the unknown, where he will come to know blessing and greatness. St Paul, writing to his young co-worker Timothy, is shown "bearing the hardships for the sake of the Good News, relying on the power of God, who has saved us and called us to be holy … by his own grace" (2 Timothy 1:8-10).

The lives of the disciples, Peter, James and John, will never be the same, having witnessed the "indescribable glory" of the transfigured Christ, on Mount Tabor (Matthew 17:1-9). Though, only after the Lord's resurrection, will their experience make sense.

So too with us. Often events do not make sense at the time - especially troubles, hardships and sufferings - only after we have travelled some distance along the road. Little did St Patrick know what the future held in store for him, when he was abducted by slave-traders and taken to Ireland, at the age of sixteen.

We walk our journey of faith in profound trust. In God is the origin and end of our path.

It is God who walks with us - our companion at every step.

It is God who shepherds and leads us, along "the everlasting way", into the endless unfolding of the "indescribable glory of eternal life".

The brightness of the Glorified Christ, who has "abolished death, and … proclaimed life and immortality through the Good News" (II Tim 1:10), is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Ps 119:105).

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