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I am penning these words from the beautiful island of Iona.
This year we celebrate the 1500th anniversary of St Columba’s birth. St Columba is one of our greatest loved saints and daily we see boatloads of pilgrims heading out of Oban towards Iona. However, as we shortly celebrate his Feast on June 9, we should not restrict his achievements to history. Today we all have much to learn from Columba.
Born in Ireland, Columba is proof that welcoming the stranger enriches the host people.
As a monk Columba’s vocation indicated the prominence of God. As a scholar he shared the significance of learning. In his encounters with the Picts Columba exhibited the value of dialogue. As a Gael, Columba deepened the natural bonds between Ireland and Argyll and the Hebridean Islands. As an abbot Columba built community, provided safety for the vulnerable and offered the sinner and criminal opportunity for reconciliation. Convinced of Christ’s supreme importance, Columba hid his faith from no one, forced it on no one but witnessed to it in front of everyone.
Columba’s legacy still inspires. Although he lived a millennium and a half ago he continues to be a bright light for our times.
A Naomh Challum-cille Guidh air a son.
Bishop Brian McGee