Not with malice but with love

Reading about St Patrick today, I was especially struck by the fact that, having escaped from slavery in Ireland, he returned several years later, not with malice and revenge in his heart but with love. Whatever he had found in God and Christianity gave him the inner freedom which enabled him to return to the place of his bondage, not so much with an absence of fear as with an abundance of fervour. There must have been grace in those years of servitude and isolation, and redemptive healing, but their fullness would have come after his return, as he brought Christ to the land in which he had been ill-treated.

And this is something we need to hear more about, especially in these times of ugliness and hate. The way to healing can never be through retaliating against the one who has wounded us, but through loving them. How this can translate to politics, security or foreign policy is another matter, but surely not an impossible one. Those to whom evil is done, wrote WH Auden chillingly, Do evil in return: but the life and example of Patrick shows that another way - the way of responding in love - is not only possible, but far more effective and redemptive, both for the lover and those to whom love is given.