The Religious Order I belong to thought it auspicious when the late Pope Saint John Paul II died on the Feast day of Divine Mercy. I find it auspicious when our own Deacon Paul died so closely to the Feast day of Pentecost. It’s as if God was strongly inviting us to witness how the Holy Spirit speaks through the example of Paul’s life.
I didn’t spell out Paul’s name above. I spelled out how people knew him. He was for one and all, “Deacon Paul.” This is how people knew him, and that’s the problem with us and the Holy Spirit. The third person of the Trinity is not seemingly known by us. He remains a stranger to many; at best, we merely know his name, the Holy Spirit, and not much more. That must change.
Christ makes great strides here. He introduces the Holy Spirit, and it happens around the time of His death and Resurrection. The language used isn’t typically associated with an introduction but that is what it is. You can meet the Holy Spirit through Light and Love. I have those words inscribed on a replica of an ancient Christian cross that I bought at the Smithsonian Institute. Light on the horizontal beam and Love on the vertical. Powerful words. After all, no light was revealed to the world in such splendor as when Christ died and rose. How do you rid a room of darkness? Turn on a light switch. The darkness immediately vanishes. Same experience happened with the world when Christ lived. And we can all contribute to that same effort in imitation of Christ. That is what the followers of Christ have done and continue to do.
This is where Paul comes in. He contributed greatly by continuing to reflect Christ’s light. His preaching of the Lord and his living out what he preached are all amazing contributions to the spiritual light of this parish. Want a contrast? Don’t you admit that when you read or hear of shootings someplace or international terrorist activity, you feel like you are looking into a pit of darkness? Well, don’t you feel like you are looking directly into light whenever you witnessed Paul’s enthusiasm in his preaching or in other forms of ministry, whether in Baptisms or the Food Pantry? I sure did.
The world is a much brighter place because of Paul’s life. You know, in most accounts of “near death experiences,” people typically recount moving through a tunnel toward a bright light. Then a voice from the light tells them to go back. That experience didn’t happen to Deacon Paul. The light embraced him instead. But not before Deacon Paul opened the window of his own life and shined a good part of that light on us first. Thanks, Deacon Paul. Go into that light now. Go deeply into it. And rest in peace.
Blessings, Fr. Walter