He will be not only intelligent and charming: he will be compassionate, he will be charitable and do good, for the sake of consolidating his power. And when he will have strengthened it sufficiently, so that the whole world acknowledges him, then he will show his real face.
St. John (Maximovich) describes the antichrist in the foregoing in a way similar to how we may describe the humanist reflex standing at the helm of the global revisionism which increasingly engulfs the soul today. If we may allude to the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant, radical evil is evil which thinks itself to be good. Thus, as humanism on the global front takes itself to be the highest good, we cannot emerge too surprised to find that it consists of radical evil. War in the name of peace, abortion in the name of charity, abomination in the name of marriage, self-affection in the name of love: just when we think the vileness of the iron age could not be exceeded, another sacred principality is violated. In his well known homily On the Last Times, the Antichrist, and the End of the World, St. Ephraim the Syrian writes:
Why therefore are we occupied with worldly business, and why is our mind held fixed on the lusts of the world or on the anxieties of the ages?
That is, asks the venerable deacon, now that most everything foretold of the endtimes has come to pass, everything except the removal of the κατέχον, or that last vestige which holds back the antichrist, why do we continue to comport ourselves in oblivion as usual? And now, one hundred years on from the removal of the Katehon, most likely the martyred last Tsar of Russia, Nicholas II and his family, the question may now become, why are we not all out in the public square exemplifying the alternative to this ultimate distress signal? (For what good does it do anyone for non-monastics to feign ‘opt out’ of the world entirely into some quaint enclave, as such reactionary plight precisely de facto takes the world itself as its referent.)
Maybe we are like the unprofitable and wicked servants, the five virgins with no oil, or the rich man who starved Lazarus. Maybe we are like the pharisee, and our regular prayer and fasting need correcting. Perhaps the apostolic example instructs not by way of imitation, but by emulation of its willing openness to any and all. For in the Gospel read on the Sunday of the Dread Judgment (Matthew 25: 31-46) we are told when He comes again in Glory, “[b]efore Him shall be gathered all nations.” Perhaps our very formative injunction, “Go therefore and teach all nations,” could today call out in the open by that magisterial presence that also once wielded the spear driving a nation into the waters of Holy Baptism in the Dnieper.
For, as St. John Chrysostom points out in his commentary on this Gospel, those cast to our Lord’s left as goats are first judged by the mere presence of His well-rewarded sheep, just as the wicked servant by the faithful one, the virgins without oil by the five with, the one who buried his talent by the ones who multiplied their lot, and the like. To evoke what remnant of conscience remains in the world, perhaps an effort of a larger order can help each of us adjudicate rather than justify our own inner failings as such. For the Sacred need not erupt into the all-but-withered political sphere since it is always already inclusive of all domains of experience. There also we need not hold a sunrise revival over the farmlands or scream scripture into the already-ringing ears of the random (and perhaps pious) passersby. Nor do we need feign open a sliding-scale soup kitchen and “kumbaya” people who we corner into (liking) our jambalaya. Does not the resolute acquisition of Truth itself go the distance, such as outstrips any tribulation, any ailment, any persecution?
Thus, perhaps, pressing up against from below the precipice whereupon stagger the goats — to use the Blessed Theophylact of Ochrid’s image in his commentary on this Gospel reading — we may plead along with the Lord who to this point pleads with us all unto salvation to lessen their fall. So also those who would feign reinvent the cult of revolution and cry in response to nothing in particular but the resoluteness of being, that “only sheep need a leader,” could benefit from actual witness of the utmost respect (nay, terrible mercy) at hand in the fear of God. Once the faithful are witnessed neither as self-proclaimed sheep with no element of goat nor as blood-thirsty tyrannists who do not ask or allow genuine questions, we may emerge from the not-so-quaint ghettos of ethic phyletism, sectarianism, and sparsely-attended (or not) old folks clubs.
To be done once and for all with the judgement of man perhaps consists of allowing the thread-barrenness of his assumed relevance and incessant, bi-polar justification to wallow in his contrast with a simple resoluteness in the faith, its absolute forgiveness, through its well-ordered and directed apostolic diplomacy unto the Kingdom within and without (The Church Militant and Triumphant, respectively), the foundations of which have been prepared for all from the beginning. The now-aged hippy-dippy humanist plight of globalism presupposes the human species itself to provide that foundation, and thereby such idolatry potentially perpetuates our fall.