I am already being poured out like a libation,
and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge,
will award to me on that day, and not only to me,
but to all who have longed for his appearance.
Many today fear death. Some others fear life.
St. Paul feared neither death nor life: his only thought was doing the work of the Lord.
In today’s second reading, we hear the profoundly moving feelings of a man who has grown old in the Lord’s service and is now passing the torch to the next generation.
It is a powerful and amazing torch. It has enabled him to suffer much, to stand absolutely alone in the face of terrifying opposition, to travel far and wide in order to bring the Gospel message to thousands and thousands of people face-to-face, to write about God in ways no one had written before, to feel life pour from him, and to accept death not as a doom nor as a release but simply as the next step in his journey in the Lord.
It is the torch of faith: faith in God the Father, faith in Christ the Son, and faith in the Holy Spirit.
Paul passed that torch to his friend and protégé Timothy. That torch is within our grasp as well.
We sit with St. Paul in the gathering dark and we want to let ourselves be filled by the light and warmth of faith. We want to let that faith fill every part of ourselves, so that we will fear nothing in this world or beyond this world, but only do what God wants us to do and share his gift of love and truth.
The torch has been passed to us. If we hold fast to it and carry it high, then like St. Paul by the grace of God we will pass through all the evil the world can muster and in the end be brought safely to the heavenly Kingdom of God.
Do not be afraid. Carry the torch of faith.