“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared.” (1 Jn 2:18) and more from 1 John

TODAY’S READINGS

We usually think of the Antichrist as a sinister apocalyptic figure who will appear just before Christ’s Second Coming. There is scriptural warrant for this, of course, not only in Revelation but throughout the New Testament and early Jewish-Christian texts. But the only place the term “antichrist” itself appears in the Bible is in John’s first two letters. The word simply means “against Christ,” so it is not confined to a single creature.

Well, per John’s words above, it seems the “last hour” is fast approaching in our society and world. A particularly appropriate reading for the last day of the calendar year. All around us sin abounds. Governments, organizations, corporations, media, even other religions, all militate against Christ to some extent or another. What is our defense? John tells us at the end of today’s first reading (1 Jn 2:18-21):

I write to you not because you do not know the truth but because you do, and because every lie is alien to the truth.

1 John 2:21

“What is the truth?” This famous exclamation from Pontius Pilate comes when he confronts Jesus on Good Friday while considering His fate (see Jn 18:38). Spoiler alert: John gives us the answer before we get to the Passion:

Jesus said to [Thomas], “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 14:6

But John also intimates this in today’s Gospel reading (Jn 1:1-18):

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it

And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only-begotten Son,
full of grace and truth.

John 1:1, 5, 14

Jesus is the Truth. It is through Him that the “light” goes on for us and scatters the “darkness” of sin and deceit and immorality that is all around us. Christians profess to know Christ so we should know the truth. What does that mean for us? Jesus tells us, again in John:

If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

John 8:31-32

Authentic freedom is found only in following the truth. Not, as is popularly expressed nowadays, your truth and my truth. There is only one Truth. We must not be deceived or intimated by lies masquerading as truth in the interest of not making waves, being politically correct, or “woke” (a term I despise). We do not want to fall into this trap:

They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator

Romans 1:25

When the poles are reversed, the power goes out. But we need to stay plugged in to the Power Source (see Mt 26:64 or Mk 14:62) by never giving in to the lie regardless of the cost.

(The source background in the first paragraph is the Catholic Bible Dictionary [pp. 50-51] — another must have for the Scripture lover’s bookshelf.)

COMMENTARY QUOTE WORTH SHARING

Coincidentally, I am working through a commentary that includes the letters of John (I am a huge advocate for the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture). I was struck by these lines commenting on 1 John 4:7-10, which, now that I look at them again, tie in quite well with the discussion above.

John’s insistence on the true origin of love is a reminder that all of us need to hear. We should be careful not to reverse the terms of John’s famous saying “God is love.” Yes, God is love, but not all that passed for love is therefore “God.” We cannot begin with our own safe and secret notions of love and the apply them to what God is like.

Kelly Anderson and Daniel Keating. James, First, Second, and Third John (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017), 212.

So, when we are told what “love” is by those who defy God in their speech, actions, and advocacy, be wary. Authentic love is only found in God and His revelation.

Depiction of the antichrist (1501) by Luca Signorelli (from the Orvieto Cathedral)

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