Happy St. Patrick's Day!
Patrick has long been one of the patrons of Ireland and his feast day has become a very big deal in other parts of the world with substantial amounts of Irish immigration and everyone knows that he was one of the principle actors in the story of Ireland's conversion to Catholicism. But the circumstances of his life's work are pretty intense. Patrick was actually not Irish, but British (we're not completely sure if he was English, Welsh, or Scottish). At a young age he as kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland and only later did he come back and offer his preaching and service to the people of Ireland. His story matches a little bit with today's reading from the book of Genesis about the patriarch Joseph. Joseph was the youngest son of Jacob and resented by his older brothers. Because he was "daddy's favorite" his brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt. Years later, however, it was Joseph (by then an important adviser in the country where he was once a slave) who saved his starving family by welcoming them into Egypt to find food and work.
In both of these stories we see God taking a traumatic and evil event (being sold into slavery) and using it to do great things in the world. These two men could have been forgiven for harboring hatred and resentment for the people who brought them so much suffering, but instead they used their experiences to bring the light of God into the very communities that oppressed them. God certainly does work in mysterious ways. It's not that he causes bad things to happen to us or forces others to sin, it's that he can use anything, absolutely anything, to accomplish his work in the world. Patrick and Joseph demonstrate to us that even when evil befalls us, we are never down for the count when we trust in God and accept His grace in our life. He doesn't introduce crooked lines into the world, but he sure can write straight with them!
Erin go bragh!