Today is St Patricks day. A day that celebrates the life of the patron saint of Ireland. To all our Irish friends Lá fhéile Pádraig sona duit (Happy St Patrick’s day in Gaelic).
Patrick was born in Britain circa AD 387 and kidnapped as a slave at the age of 16 he was taken to Ireland. He escaped six years later but around AD 432 he heard God’s call to serve the people of Ireland and share the Good News with them and so returned to Ireland. He purportedly baptised 12,000 people in a single day near a town called Killala – what incredible favour from God!
In Luke 4:17-19 we see a story about Jesus sharing his calling:
‘and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him [Jesus]. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
This moves me to think about the people The Leprosy Mission meet every day in many countries. People who find themselves on the edges. People who find themselves hearing the ‘bad’ news of having leprosy. People trapped by folk law and the chains of stigma. Prisoners of depression and fear, people who have little hope once they hear those words… ‘You have leprosy!’. Unlike Patrick people affected by leprosy feel there is no escape, but that is where people like you and I come in to the picture.
We have the opportunity of sharing the Good News – ‘Today there is a cure. Today there is hope. Today you can escape the oppression you feel. Today you can be free!’ We may not be able to say this face to face but by being generous with our gifts and by praying we can help people know the favour of God.
Today Irish people all over the word celebrate with parades and parties sharing the joy of their heritage and feeling connected to people like themselves across the globe.
We can help people affected by leprosy celebrate life again.
Together we can help people like Avinash who since being helped by people like you says… “At festival time when people gather I go with my friends and pray out loud.” He is no longer afraid to be seen or heard. He is no longer afraid to shout out loud and show the effects that leprosy has had on his body, because he is free! He can now, like others, celebrate at festivals and be an unashamed member of his culture and society.
Thank you for all that you do for people like Avinash. Thank you for hearing God’s call to proclaim Good News. Thank you.