Monday 10 June 2013

Vignettes from the Lives of the Irish Saints: Colum Cille and Baoithín

One day Columcille and his disciple Beethan were walking along the sea-shore near Dublin. A storm arose, and they saw a ship wrecked by the waves.
"Why did the Almighty permit that ship to be lost?" inquired Beethan.
"One of the crew was a great sinner, and because of his sins those other men suffered shipwreck," Columcille replied.
"It hardly seems just," said Beethan, "that so many should die for the sins of one person."
Columcille did not answer. He knew his disciple spoke without thinking.
They passed on, and the saint took a bee-hive, which he asked his companion to carry. One of the bees escaped and stung Beethan, who dropped the hive. The honeycombs were broken in pieces.
"Why did you destroy the hive?" said Columcille, slyly.
"I was stung!" cried Beethan. "A bee stung my hand!"
"Then because you get a slight sting in one hand from a single bee, you consider the whole hive may fitly be destroyed?"
This time it was Beethan who did not answer.
"So," said Columcille, "the justice of God is not violated, although for the very grievous sin of one a multitude may pay the penalty."

Francis Carty, Two and Fifty Irish Saints (Dublin, 1941), 40-41.

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