Ireland is reputed to have 40 shades of green in its fields and forests. On the patron Saint Patrick’s day, the 17th March, this transforms into the greening of 450 landmarks around the world. Not a bad showing for a relatively obscure figure who lived around 390/461AD.
History has not always been kind to the Irish. Occupied for the last 800 years by the English there were a number of risings against the oppressor. The ringleaders of these failed rebellions were occasionally sent into exile in various parts of the world.
It seems that “the further away the better” was the judicial line when sentencing and Irish men and women settled in places as far afield as Australia.
In addition, famine in Ireland in the mid 1800’s created mass immigration. This time America was the place where they went to carve out a new life. This established a population of some 50 million who claim to be descended from Irish stock. So successful have they been in making their mark on their country of adoption that a number of President’s claim forebears who have roots in Ireland.
Immigrants the world over bring their customs and festivals with them. As a result, Patrick’s day has been established in the calendars of many countries. This has provided our marketing people with ready-made access to leaders in many countries and gained priceless publicity. The icing on the cake must be the annual presentation of a bowl of shamrock by our Taoiseach to the President of the United States.
This humble weed owes its eminence to St Patrick. He is reputed to have used it as a visual aid to explain the Trinity. With the small green plant, a three leafed clover, Patrick showed the separate leaves yet one stem to reflect God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The three in one. The illustration only goes so far as it cannot emulate the personal relationship of the Godhead with each other.
As a symbol it indicates falsely that each member of the trinity is one third of God. In fact, each is total God yet not so as to produce three gods but acting in unity of purpose each carries out his own distinctive role.
This is best seen in the salvation of a sinner. The Father planned salvation, the Son accomplished Salvation and the Spirit applied salvation to the repentant sinner. The means by which the sinner receives salvation is faith. This faith is the gift of God to all who seek it (Ephesians chapter 2 verses 8 – 9).
All this is by God’s grace, that is His giving to us what we do not deserve nor could we ever earn. By his grace He makes Saints out of sinners like Patrick and me!