My wife and I have just returned from a holiday in Ireland.  Known as the “Emerald Isle” because of its lush, green texture, this fascinating country is also referred to as the “Land of Saints and Scholars”.

These “Saints and Scholars” include the great St Patrick, who converted Ireland to Christianity without recourse to any form of violence, together with St Columba, the founder of the Iona community, and many others who kept the flame of faith alive during times of darkness and despair.

Then there is the eminent C.S. Lewis, the renowned W.B. Yeats, the enigmatic James Joyce and the flamboyant Oscar Wilde.

Ireland is also home to Bob Geldof and to Bono, two gifted artists who are also committed humanitarians.  Mary Robinson, the first female president, also must be included here particularly for her outstanding advocacy in the area of human rights with the United Nations.

Meanwhile Ireland makes a wonderful contribution to the world of theatre with people like Colin Farrell, Michael Fassbender and Kati McGrath.

And I can’t not refer to Ireland’s marvellous comedians.  There is Dermot Morgan who stars as the wacky Father Ted in the series of the same name, Dylan Moran who appears as Bernard Black in the quirky comedy, Black Books, and Chris O’Dowd who plays the role of the nerdy Roy in the recent British sitcom, The IT Crowd.

For Laurel and I, the best part of our holiday was the people.  Here we encountered vitality and passion together with a strong sense of identity and resolve .

People make communities.  People make nations. Indeed, being in relationship with others, celebrating human giftedness and working collaboratively together for a better future is what life is really about.

Hence, it’s important to recognise, value, cherish, celebrate and encourage the “Saints and Scholars” in our community.

This does not simply include a few elites or an exclusive group of extraordinary people.  Rather, every one of us are “Saints and Scholars” in one way or the other.  We are all gifted.  We are all called to make a contribution.  We are all summoned to live life with passion, meaning and purpose.

Friends, we are all “Saints and Scholars” – one and all.  So, what is your gift?  What kind of contribution are you called to make?  What’s uniquely special about your life and what are you able to offer others?