On this seventh day of Christmas and final day of the year, our first reading can seem a bit strange, but only if you get your theology from the movies.
In the movies the "antichrist" is depicted as some supernatural being. How do they come up with this? They take a bunch of different verses from the bible mix them all together and create an image. The saddest part is that even some Christians have fallen into this trap.
If we just read the words of the fist reading today from John's letter we see that the antichirst is someone much more mundane and unfortunately common.
Children, it is the last hour;
and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. Thus we know this is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of our number; if they had been, they would have remained with us. But you have the anointing that comes from the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. I write to you not because you do not know the truth but because you do, and because
We like to imagine the early Church as being filled with love peace and harmony. It was in reality filled with people, people like you and me. There were those who joined but when it turned out to not be what they wanted or expected they left. They not only left but they spread lies about the apostles, and the message of the Church. These deserters were referred to by St. John as antichrists.
As the quote often associated with Mark Twain goes,“A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.” And now with electronic media it travels literally at the speed of light.
On this last day of the year, we are reminded that a part of being a Christian is the belief that there is such a thing a the truth. The truth is knowable. And most of all we must be people dedicated to searching for the truth, speaking the truth, living the truth.
There is something in us that loves a good rumor, a salacious story, a scandal. The early Christians were accused of eating flesh and drinking blood. After all, that's much more interesting than the actual theology of the Eucharist. St. Patrick was accused of stealing. St. Gerard was accused of having an affair. And the list goes on. The antichrists have been around since the beginning of the church. They thrive on our willingness to believe the worst about others particularly those with whom we disagree. The dark side in us seems to like to see good people fall down.
Perhaps this reading today will encourage us in the new year to rededicate ourselves to the truth, to give others the benefit of the doubt, and be less quick to believe the worst— in short, to love.