Do Not Say, “I Am Only a Child”
I love St. Patrick’s Day. He really inspires me. I am always awed by his story: to be kidnapped and enslaved, then escape, become a priest, and return as a missionary. He must have had some PTSD from his capture during which he endured many lonely years, probably abuse, and hardships of many other kinds.
God apparently healed him because when he returned to Ireland to evangelize, his mentality was anything but that of a slave. He had dominion over his vocation as bishop, and he had the confidence in God that gave him confidence to stand and address the Druids as an equal—and not only that but as a man with an important message: that they should change their ways. Last year I heard this reading on St. Patrick’s feast day, and it is just perfect. It could have been St. Patrick’s prayer as he was preparing to go to Ireland:
I said, ‘Ah, Lord; look, I do not know how to speak: I am a child!’ But the Lord replied,‘Do not say, “I am a child.” Go now to those to whom I send you, and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to protect you –it is the Lord who speaks!’ Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me: ‘There! I am putting my words into your mouth.’ – Jeremiah 1:5-9
I feel like a child sometimes. Kind of like Jonah sent to Nineveh. When I think of our plans to go to Asia, my mind is full of questions about how to speak there of the love and mercy of God—which He has instructed Christians to preach to the ends of the earth. The country to which we hope to go has almost no Christians.
I came across this passage about evangelizing in non-Christian countries (from the USCCB website)
Evangelists encounter people in the messiness of their lives. Evangelization begins when we invest ourselves in others in all their brokenness, because our own brokenness has been taken up and healed by Christ. There is something different about such Christians. They have found joy in their suffering because they have put their faith in Jesus, who first suffered and died for us. The Christian does not escape suffering, but suffering is transformed and gives way to a deep and abiding peace because of the nearness of Jesus Christ. “It is impossible to persevere in a fervent evangelization unless we are convinced from personal experience that it is not the same thing to have known Jesus as not to have known him” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 266).
This is what it all boils down to! Jesus changes everything. Suffering is transformed and has meaning. Our lives are not the same as they would be if we didn’t know Him. He brings joy. He brings peace. Like St. Patrick, this is the message we want to share with those who do not yet know Him.
The Lord says, “Do not say ‘I am a Child,’” because we are not weak, or helpless, or unqualified. He is with us! He will put the words in our mouths. Even our own children can have utmost confidence that, while without God they can do nothing, with Him they can do anything!
From the prayer of St. Patrick
I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.
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