Summary: Jesus is the great Shepherd of the flock because He fulfilled the covenant plan of redemption by offering His eternal blood as the resurrected Lamb of God. He made the ultimate sacrifice so that His sheep would have true peace through the grace of God. Th
INTRODUCTION - St Patrick’s Day
He was a Roman who was taken from his home in Scotland at 16 to be a slave in Ireland and his service was to be a humble Shepherd. Later he would shepherd as at were a whole people and train over 350 Shepherds of God’s flock. I am sure by now you have guessed his name: Patrick. We call him St. Patrick. The exact dates of his life are not certain, but one historian has it that he was born 387 and died March 17, 493. His day has been memorialized as a Feast Day, March 17. And of course he is the Patron of Ireland and the Irish, whose symbols are the cross, harp, serpent, baptismal font, demons, and the shamrock. All of these have significance in his biography.
On Easter Day in 433 the missionary band proceeded in processional order to Tara. It was on this occasion that Saint Patrick picked a shamrock, to explain by its triple leaf and single stem, in some rough way, to the assembled chieftains, the great doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. On that bright Easter Day, the triumph of the of gospel at Tara was complete. The Ard-Righ granted permission to Patrick to preach the Faith throughout the length and breadth of Erin, and the druidical prophecy like the words of Balaam of old would be fulfilled: the sacred fire now kindled by the saint would never be extinguished. Saint Patrick continued until his death to visit and watch over the churches which he had founded in all the provinces in Ireland. He comforted the faithful in their difficulties, strengthened them in the Faith and in the practice of virtue, and appointed pastors to continue his work among them. It is recorded in his Life that he consecrated no fewer than 350 bishops.
Listen to his own words in the CONFESSIO. This confession, filled with over 200 allusions to the Word of God, ends by saying "...if I did or showed forth anything however small according to God’s good pleasure; but let this be your conclusion and let it so be thought, that---as is the perfect truth---it was the gift of God. This is my confession before I die." It was God’s grace, not his merit. Unlike the unholy communion that most often claims St. Patrick, He knew the free grace of God which comes through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone:
"I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many...I was taken captive. I was at that time about sixteen years of age. I did not, indeed, know the true God; and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people....And there the Lord opened my mind to an awareness of my unbelief, in order that, even so late, I might remember my transgressions and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my insignificance and pitied my youth and ignorance. And he watched over me before I knew him, and before I learned sense or even distinguished between good and evil, and he protected me, and consoled me as a father would his son. Therefore, indeed, I cannot keep silent, nor would it be proper, so many favours and graces has the Lord deigned to bestow on me in the land of my captivity.
For there is no other God, nor ever was before, nor shall be hereafter, but God the Father, unbegotten and without beginning, in whom all things began, whose are all things, as we have been taught; and his son Jesus Christ, who manifestly always existed with the Father, before the beginning of time in the spirit with the Father, indescribably begotten before all things, and all things visible and invisible were made by him. He was made man, conquered death and was received into Heaven, to the Father who gave him all power over every name in Heaven and on Earth and in Hell, so that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and God, in whom we believe. And we look to his imminent coming again, the judge of the living and the dead, who will render to each according to his deeds. And he poured out his Holy Spirit on us in abundance, the gift and pledge of immortality, which makes the believers and the obedient into sons of God and co-heirs of Christ who is revealed, and we worship one God in the Trinity of holy name.
Cf. THE LORICA (Breastplate Prayer) OF ST. PATRICK
A literal translation from the old Irish text made into the hymn we sung by Cecil Alexander.
I arise today Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,