In today's first reading we have what has become one of the most ominous terms in Christianity, "the antichrist."
By playing a rather strained theological version of connect the dots using select bible verses from various books some have constructed the idea of this single evil person who will appear in the future, like Damien in the movies. During the reformation some of course wanted to claim that the pope was this figure.
We forget that we, as Christians, do not believe in a dualistic universe, God vs. the Devil. In the Christian understanding of the world Satan is not an equal opposite of God. God is God and Satan is merely a creature whose power is minuscule compared to God.
In today's reading John writes, "just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared." Notice that he says many and he talks of their appearance, not as something in the future but, as something that had already happened. The reading today ends with " 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."
The antichrist is not some supernatural futuristic being but simply those who they knew would come who would be anti-Christ, and would deny the truth and try to convince the early church that what they knew to be true was wrong.
"Every lie is alien to the truth"
For John there are no "white lies." is it difficult to always tell the truth? Yes. Because we are also called to love, we often must search for gentle tactful ways to speak the truth and we must always be careful that we don't confuse what is merely our opinion for the truth. But John reminds us today that there is a truth, we can know the truth, and we must remain committed to it.
Perhaps a good place to begin the new year.