Our Liturgy today gives us some appropriate readings for the last day of our calendar year. We have the end and the beginning in the Scriptures, just as our minds and hearts are reflecting on the end of this year and the beginning of the year to come.
In the reading from the first letter of Saint John, we are told that we know it is the last hour because of the appearance of the antichrists. We don’t have to worry about who the antichrist is, we are told, because there are so many of them: those who have rejected the faith and live according to their own whims. If Saint John saw many of them in his own day and age, we certainly can see plenty of them now, can’t we? We live in a society that is, as Saint John says, “alien to the truth.” We have to battle the antichrist element around us all the time.
But if the end of all things is bad news, the beginning is Good News. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God. We don’t have to worry about battling the antichrist element on our own, because as our Gospel says, the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. That is what we continue to celebrate on this Christmas Day: God did not abandon us to the power of death and darkness, but instead came to dwell with us as a human being, taking on our fallenness, embracing our brokenness, and redeeming all that is anti-Christ in and around us.
Today we realize one of the essential truths of our Church’s theology: the already and the not-yet. Because Christ has taken flesh and been born among us, we are already redeemed. But it is not yet perfect, because we can see so much anti-Christ around us, and even, sometimes, deep inside us. In the wonder of the Incarnation, Christ, God the Word, has revealed God’s glory to us. We long for the day when we can behold that glory face to face.