Homily for St. Patrick’s Day

My dear sisters and brother, I think it would be expected and quite natural that, for any of us in our own individual professions or trades, that we would take great pride in what we do. And we make it our business to do it well and to learn as best we can how to be successful. Whether it’s a lawyer, a doctor, a plumber, or a fisherman.

So with that as perhaps the backdrop today we hear an absolutely extraordinary story. For today we hear that a fisherman who came from a family perhaps of many generations, who fished as a profession, took the advice of a carpenter. Very strange.

And yet my friends, in its strangeness there is a great lesson. For Simon Peter intuited that this Jesus with whom he was walking, with whom he was becoming to know and loving, was someone he could trust. And that he did not have to stand on his own self-sufficiency, his own skills and talents, his own history, nut he could literally trust him to do something new. And he yielded great fruit.

I would like to suggest to you, my friends, as we celebrate the Feast of Saint Patrick, our Patron patron of Ireland and also in the cathedral Parish, our co-patron since the church of Saint Patrick is part of our larger Cathedral family, that Patrick himself wishes to teach us the same lesson. Because Patrick’s life yielded great fruit precisely because he trusted in the Lord. For you know his story well. Having been enslaved he trusted enough in the Lord to go back to the country in which he was enslaved so that he could bear the message of Christ.

When confronting evil in the form of the snakes that he encountered, he trusted not to run away but to confront them. And he bore great fruit precisely because he was able to expel them and to create a soil that was worthy and ready to receive the faith. And Ireland has stood for centuries as a bulwark and foundation of our faith in Europe and way beyond. Patrick understood that in the end, there’s a fundamental choice to make. Do we trust in ourselves, perhaps those around us, alone, or do we trust in God’s providence, mercy and love? Patrick chose wisely and bore great fruit.

So today we ask ourselves a question. I ask you, of myself, I ask it of you. In whom do you trust? For many times in our lives, even those of us who are trying to follow the Lord as best we can, we are tempted to forget that those who walk in His footsteps need to trust Him even when it’s difficult. Even when it hurts.

For example, when our prayers are not answered or our prayers get an answer of ‘no’, in those moments of great trial, do we trust that God’s providence and love can see what we cannot see? That God loves us despite the answer ‘no’. Or do we rebel because we trust in ourselves to know better than God does? Or in our times of prosperity and success are we tempted to think that we are the authors of it? Or do we forget that it was only because of God’s providence in the Lord’s love and mercy that we’re able to accomplish anything in our lives, and everything that has eternal value.

You see my friends we live in a world not much different from Patrick’s. In a world that aspired to basically be one of subjection and power over others, a world that thought they were in charge. And they had to learn to the example of Patrick that a fruitful life finds its anchor in Jesus. Not in me, not in you, and not in us.

So my dear friends, we have much to celebrate today. And I know you’re off to the parade and to festivities, and since there is the dispensation enjoy whatever you plan to eat today on St Patrick’s Day. But in all that joy, please take a moment to reflect on the great lesson Patrick teaches us, following in the footsteps of Simon Peter. Let us ask ourselves the question: are we willing to trust in God’s love in providence, and please God we may answer the same way Patrick did, by saying yes.