Summary: At the beginning of the new year and decade we must ask ourselves if there is any hint of anti-Christ in our hearts.
New Year’s Eve 2019
Last or First?
Our holy Scripture today is taken from the apostle John. The Gospel teaches about the beginning, and the letter tells us about the end. And both beginning and end must be centered on Our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, everything we do in the new year, the new decade about to begin must draw life and meaning from Our Lord.
Our Gospel is clearly a commentary on the opening chapter of the Book of Genesis. Both begin with the same words in the Greek: en arche, “in the beginning.” Both speak of the Divine action of creation, but St. John interprets it in light of his understanding that God is Trinity. He speaks of Father and Son as Father and Logos–the Word. Jesus is the Word of God, the perfect expression of the Father’s self-understanding, so perfect that the Word is a person of the same substance as the Father. And the relationship in love of Father and Son is so perfect, we might add, that this Love is personal as well, of the same substance as the Father and Son, the Holy Spirit. It is that Spirit that hovered over the waters of chaos in the creation of the universe, and brought the order that we see in Genesis 1.
The Logos is the light of the world: Jesus is the light of the world, the light that overcomes the darkness of sin and error. St. John acknowledges that the people of God that Jesus was born into largely rejected Him as their Messiah. But those who believed in Jesus as the Christ, the Light, the Logos, received a new birth as children of God. For this reason did the Logos take on human nature, born as the little baby we celebrated just a week ago. And He grew as a human being, though He remained divine in person and nature, until the final rejection, the passion and death on the cross, followed by the final triumph in His Resurrection. If we in this new year and decade stay united with Him in His witness and His suffering, we, too, will be glorified through that union.
The life ahead of us is rightly characterized as a battle. Many parishes, at the end of Mass, invoke St. Michael, the archangel, to defend us in the battle. Why? We are surrounded by anti-Messiahs, in Greek and English called “anti-Christ.” Let’s take a moment to look at that word, anti-Christ. St. John tells us that many anti-Christs have come. They defected from the Christian religion, either formally or informally, by rejecting the teachings of Jesus and the Church. Some have rejected the Truth so much that they spend their lives trying to convince other human beings of some falsehood. They may teach that there is no God, a statement which both faith and science easily refute. They may back off a bit and say that either God is unknowable, or that He set the world in motion and just lets it evolve without Him. That is a statement that both Scripture and Tradition reject, and that any scientific study of the complexity of life calls into serious question. There are hundreds of other ways to reject Christ and His teaching. If we encounter folks who say things like that, we should, as St. Paul tells us, be ready to enter into the controversy, or at least say, “that’s an important question I need to research. May we finish our discussion at a later time?” Then, of course, go do the research and renew the conversation.
But let’s also at the beginning of the new year and decade ask ourselves if there is any hint of anti-Christ in our hearts. Is there anything in our life that we set in front of God, and of our following of Our Lord? It could be a bad habit of gossip, pornography, endless Internet hours. Perhaps we buy things we don’t actually need, and make excuses for doing so. Maybe we indulge in food or alcohol or even illegal drugs that harm our bodies, souls and relationships. Check the ten commandments and the seven deadly sins. And also remember that we can hurt our relationship with God by not doing good things we ought to do, like participating in the Eucharist or giving to the Church and the poor.
Because all of us, perhaps in the next 366 days, will face a more final end. All of us walk around with a lease on life that is cancellable at any time by the maker, Our Lord. So every day, at the end, we should examine our behavior and attitudes, make a good act of contrition, and rely on the sacraments of reconciliation and Eucharist to restore anything we have lost. The most important day of our future lives is coming. Let’s always be ready to celebrate it.