27th April

Far Apart, Yet Close

When I remember you in my prayers I always thank my God because I hear of your love for all God’s people and your faith towards the Lord Jesus… I have received much joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of God’s people have been refreshed through you, my brother. Philemon 4: 7.

Brendan of Birr was known as the chief of the prophets of Ireland, and he was a life-long friend of Columba. A church synod at Meltown, in Meath, had decided to ex-communicate Columba who belonged to a hostile clan. When Columba arrived at the synod only one person rose to greet him, Brendan. This took courage. Brendan told everyone: ‘I dare not slight the man chosen by God to lead nations into life’.

The two men remained close even when they were far apart. Not only did Brendan have prophetic foresight of Columba’s future ministry; Columba, on Iona, was aware of Brendan’s death in the west of Ireland on 29 November, and saw angels carrying his soul to heaven.

Have you taken to time to become aware of the souls with whom you have great affinity? Does God want you to move with that awareness? To be in touch through means of new technology, or just by carrying each other in prayer?

Of course, there may be occasions when no human friend is at hand. Even then God has ways of giving us friendship, as he did with Ciaran. Ciaran was wasting away in his desert retreat for the love of God – until a cow began to lick him and produce masses of milk!

Friends are a little bit of heaven here on earth.

Father I offer you these friends
Jesus I thank you for these bonds
Spirit I look to you for this rapport.