Thought for the weekend: The Jubilee Year of Mercy
Next Thursday, Christians in Ireland and throughout the world commemorate St Patrick, a key figure in bringing the gift of the Christian faith to Ireland.
Two extant historical documents give us some insight into St Patrick's life and ministry - The Confession and The Letter To Coroticus. The latter is a brief text addressed to a cruel and merciless individual, Coroticus, along with the band of soldiers he commanded.
Coroticus and his followers were responsible for murdering a number of new Christians whom St Patrick himself had baptised and confirmed. St Patrick's letter describes how the sacred oil of Chrism was still visible on the foreheads of the slain. Other Christians had been captured by Coroticus and sold into slavery.
St Patrick fiercely condemns the evil deeds of Coroticus and his men. He demands the release of the believers captured and enslaved. He warns the violent and merciless men that their immortal souls are in grave danger and he holds out hope for them if they will repent.
In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we are recalling St Patrick as an apostle of Divine Mercy. Merciful love is at the heart of the timeless gospel. We see it beautifully manifested in the gospel heard by many Christians this weekend - Jesus' intervention on behalf of the woman caught in the act of adultery (John 8:1-11).
St Patrick, in the Ireland of the fifth century, courageously faced murderous brutality with the truth of the gospel. In the 21st century, faced with many assaults on human dignity and freedom, the immutable gospel of life and love - the same truth proclaimed by St Patrick - continues to guide and equip us for our mission.
As spiritual children of St Patrick, let us face the challenges of 2016, with unchanging Christian truth. For Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).