I travelled back from Kerry to Donegal today on the bus.

Love neighbourToday is the feastday of Ireland’s secondary patron St Columba (Gaelic Colm-Cille) He was born in Gartan Co Donegal around 521AD, and was of royal lineage. He studied under Finnian of Moville and Finnian of Clonard. He founded monasteries at Derry, Durrow, and possibly Kells, before leaving Ireland as a missionary, “an exile for Christ.” His greatest foundation was Iona, from where he converted much of western Scotland, and his followers took the Gospel as far as northern England. He died at Iona in 597. He was renowned as a poet and scribe as well as a spiritual guide. In Gaelic literature he appears as Ireland’s most popular saint, noted for his great personal love of all creatures, both human and animal.

The Office of Readings records his last words to the community of Iona: ‘I commend to you, my children, these last words of mine, that you keep among you sincere love with peace.’ Maintaining fraternal charity in the Christian community is one of the great works of holiness and pertains directly to Jesus’ New Commandment: LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU.

Today’s  Second Reading (Romans 12:9-13) addresses this: “Do not let your love be a pretence, but sincerely prefer good to evil. Love each other as much as brothers should, and have a profound respect for each other. Work for the Lord with untiring effort and with great earnestness of spirit. If you have hope, this will make you cheerful. Do not give up if trials come; and keep on praying, if any of the saints are in need you must share with them; and you should make hospitality your special care.”