St. Patrick’s Sacrifice

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.

27 “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people[a] to myself.” 33 He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. – John 12:20-33

In John 12, we find Jesus explaining to his disciples the meaning behind his impending death. Like a “grain of wheat” falling to earth and “dying,” he too will soon die so that “much fruit” will be born. This ties closely with the other organic imagery that Jesus uses to describe the coming of the Kingdom: the mustard seed, for example. But it’s not just Jesus who is supposed to lay down his life for the sake of the Kingdom: whoever wants to follow after Jesus must also “hate” their earthly life in comparison to the eternal, abundant life found in serving Christ.

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day: a day that is commonly celebrated with parades and rivers of green, among other things. We don’t often hear much, though, about who St. Patrick was or what there is to celebrate. Patrick grew up in Roman Britain in the fifth century, but was captured by Irish pirates as a young man. After six years of slavery in Ireland, Patrick escaped back to Britain where he would eventually study to be a clergyman. Amazingly, Patrick felt called to return to Ireland as a missionary and was largely responsible for the spread of Christianity in a previously polytheistic Iand. It’s hard to imagine returning to one’s place of captivity to bring back good news, but St. Patrick clearly understood Christ’s call to lay down our lives for the sake of growing of God’s Kingdom in our world. May we all be inspired by Patrick’s example and follow Jesus wherever he might be calling us to serve!