After Dolly talks about Jesus’s entombment, Paul begins his sermon. It goes something like this: Jesus gave his own life so we could have life eternal. Suffering is the price of eternal life. Be all that you can be is the slogan of the US armed forces, but God does not want you to fight for this country, because He has no country. We must fight for God’s kingdom.
Mildred is looking more and more uncomfortable as Paul continues. We must be soldiers, and God is going to ask terrible things of you, His will changes. Today is only good because of what is coming: Easter Sunday. “Welcome to God’s army!” There are reminders about the midnight Mass on Easter.
As Sarah and her mother leave, Mildred says, “I don’t want you going back there. That is not my church, that is not the man I knew.”
Erin skipped church, and is napping on her couch that night, when she is awakened by Riley knocking on her door. She is really mad at him for standing her up and then not answering her calls. He calms her down and asks if she remembers coming to him before she ran away, and asking him to go out in the boat. They rowed out together, and now he wants her to do the same for him.
As they sit on the boat in the darkness, she is trying to figure out what’s going on with him. What’s this about? He says, “I’m gonna tell you a story, but you’re not gonna believe it. I just need you listen, promise me that?” She says yes, and then we find out what happened after the angel killed him.
He woke up on the floor of the rec center, and Paul is calmly telling him that everything is alright, he is ok. While saying this, he is repeatedly snapping Riley’s neck back into place (apparently the angel is brutal enough that he actually breaks bones when he is feasting on blood). As we continue to hear the gross snapping sounds, Paul tells Riley that “God has a plan, and death isn’t a part of it anymore.” Riley drifts back off.
When he comes to again, Paul invites him to sit. We hear Riley’s stomach rumbling, and he winces in pain. He tries to leave, but the sun is out and he starts to smoke, so Paul pulls him back inside. He says not to worry about the third degree burns, “It took your neck less than six hours to heal completely, the burns will be no problem.” He promises to be completely honest and explain everything.
Paul tells a story about an altar boy who brought him an injured mouse and asked him if God would resurrect it. Paul told him to come back in three days, he would pray over the mouse, and when the boy returned, the mouse was well. Paul confesses that he actually got a different mouse to replace it with, and Riley asks how Paul knew that story. Obviously, the boy was Riley and the priest was Pruitt.
“How?” Paul says it happened the same as it did with Riley, that they have each been taken back to their peak self, their perfect self. He asks why Riley came back last night, did he feel a calling? No, says Riley, it was Paul talking about Joe Collie’s sister. Paul apologizes for lying, then says Joe was suffering, and beyond repair. “God worked through me, and Joe was called home.” Riley is blunt about it, and says “You killed him.”
“What was that thing?” Paul tells him it was an angel, and then Bev pops in. When Paul tells her to stand very close to Riley, she obeys (albeit a bit nervously). As Paul holds Riley firmly in the chair, we see what Riley sees: a faint light under the skin on Bev’s neck, flickering in time with her pulse. Suddenly, Riley’s eyes get the same shine we have seen in the angel and Paul, and he tries to lunge at her. As Paul holds him back, his stomach rumbles and he falls to the floor.
A few minutes later, they are both sitting, and Paul asks what he felt. Riley doesn’t respond, and Paul persists. “You felt painfully hungry.” The lunge was involuntary. Paul says he himself died and was resurrected, just as Riley was. He did not feel bad about Joe, because God cleansed him of his guilt for killing him. He says, “I am not unique, even in this room. I mean – you’ve killed someone.” Note: Ouch, that’s a low blow! So far, Midnight Mass has presented Paul as misguided, but not really mean. But, that one hurt.
Riley says it’s not the same; he doesn’t even remember the accident, he was literally asleep at the wheel. Paul says God spared him guilt and remorse, then he loses his temper, wanting Riley to share how this “blessing” makes him feel. “God chose you! Have courage!”