31 December 2016

Auntie Christ!


Today's Readings:

  • 1 John 2:18-21
  • John 1:1-18

In the Douay, the RSV, or the NABRE with other Mass texts.

Filioli, novissima hora est: et sicut audistis quia antichristus venit, et nunc antichristi multi facti sunt; unde scimus, quia novissima hora est. Ex nobis prodierunt, sed non erant ex nobis, nam, si fuissent ex nobis, permansissent utique nobiscum: sed ut manifesti sint quoniam non sunt omnes ex nobis
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that Antichrist cometh, even now there are become many Antichrists: whereby we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us. For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have remained with us; but that they may be manifest, that they are not all of us. 
1 John 2:18-19

Before he fell asleep in the Lord, my grandfather was seriously into the "Left Behind" series. It became the thing to read in our family just so we could all have something to discuss at the holiday dinner table. I think I read 6 or 7 of the series, maybe 8. Like Harry Potter, after a while the author realized he was making money and cranked out the stuff with nary a thought to editing or quality. It just got boring after a while - not at all like Rapture stuff was in the 70s! I lived in fear then that something might actually happen and I'd miss some cue or clue and boom, everyone would be gone and I'd be stranded on earth without the Holy Spirit (who would leave when the church did). Then there was Hal LIndsey, who could walk his way through the book of Revelation and prove - right there in black and white - that the newest design of the European Union Flag was the mark of the beast.

In each of these "Artistic" genres, the bad guy was Satan, of course, but he had an earthly minion - the Antichrist - who showed up with some sort of business suited charisma and Alberto VO5 hairlock, pearly white teeth and evil. He wafted out of these religious works into the popular imagination. The Omen series was all about him. Eventually, of course, the Antichrist became so evil that he became comic. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman collaborated on "Good Omens" and had me rolling on the floor laughing for sheer relief.

Here's the real kicker: "Antichrist" is not in the book of the Apocalypse. All five times the word occurs it is here in the Epistles of St John. 4 times in this very book we're reading now. And not one Antichrist but many. In another place he warns us that "the Spirit of Antichrist is already in the world." (1 John 4:3) This is not something that is coming later. This is now. Here. Already even in Ephesus in the st Century. Certainly now.

What does Antichrist mean?

It's not like Antimatter: the "not matter" that functions as a counterpoint to matter in Startrek. You can't put Christ and Antichrist in a room together and start a new super nova. If you have 5 Matter, you need also need a -5 Antimatter to make it go "boom"'. Jesus is not Infinity+Christ while the other is Infinity-Antichrist. Anti, in this case, means simply "instead of". Look what John says: "They went out from us" The Antichrists went out from the Church.

Everyone who leaves the Church looking for another answer becomes Antichrist.

Some people leave in good faith. Some people fall away. Some people get into a fight with their priest or the choir director, the head of the Sisterhood or the lady that's been sitting in the pew behind us for 28 years. Some people move to another city and never finish the church shopping. Some people hear the wrong thing in a sermon once and they walk out.

They become Antichrist - looking for something instead of Christ. Since Jesus is, as we read in the Goslep, the wor

Some do come back. Some do not. John says the ones that don't come back were not "of us" in the first place.

Of course we must be careful. I could spin this in such a way as to make it sound like All Protestants. Some Catholics can make it sound like the Orthodox are the Antichrist. Some Orthodox (as well as some Protestants) know for certain that the Pope is the Antichrist. But forget that all for awhile. Antichrist is someone who walks of out of church - maybe forever, or maybe just after mass is over, and goes looking for another answer.

That has been me from time to time. There are just some answers in the will of God I get tired of hearing.

Is that you?