Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Jesus Pantocrator and the Antichrist

HERE IS THE ICON of Christ-Pantocrator dating to the 6th century and kept at Saint Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai, Egypt. Pantocrator means - Who rules over all. But this Christ rules with a gentle face, his blessing hand and life-promising Gospel Word. 

Kathleen Norris in her book, Amazing Grace, writes about the word Antichrist. Religious people often use Antichrist as a dramatic shock word. I met some lean-right Catholics once who within two minutes of our introduction pronounced Barack Obama to be the Antichrist in league with Hitler and Stalin. 

Stupidity and ignorance (along with power and fear) are the prime spiritual enemies of the Christian, turning us into demonizing finger-pointers. This kind of religious person keeps the spotlight on others. They don't see themselves. Remember Michael Jackson's song, Man in the Mirror.

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change.

Kathleen Norris tells of asking a preacher man the meaning of Antichrist. He told her that the Antichrist is ME and YOU - when we hear the gospel word of Jesus and then don't do it. Talk about keeping things simple. It's much easier to blame someone else - to take an interest in every other kind of religious person, place or thing, but keep the Gospel at bay.

So here in the icon we see that Jesus' gospel book is closed. Forcing nothing, he waits to see if we will open it. If we were to open Jesus' golden, jeweled and illumined book our eyes might fall on this passage:
Jesus also said to them, "Is a lamp brought in to be put under a tub or under the bed? Surely to be put on the lamp-stand? For there is nothing hidden, but it must be disclosed, nothing kept secret except to be brought to light. Anyone who has ears for listening should listen?" (Mark 4: 21-23)

Each of us is the lamp, having received the Lord's teaching and inspiration. Jesus wants us living in light - bright inner light: faithful, repentant, attentive to and aware of spiritual things, true, just, teachable, unfettered and glad.

We're illumined, so to shine where we go. That little interior lamp, easily extinguished, needs to be protected. When I was a boy, after each Sunday Mass, the county police kindly directed traffic onto the main road at the exit of the large parish parking lot. At some point the police stop showing up, having been worn down by the abusive curses of parishioners who felt they were not being exit-ed fast enough. 

This little light of mine...let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!


  1. Your blog has taught me to look for even the littlest light shining from each person.I pray that my light is visible to others. Let it shine forth.

  2. And let it begin with me. Simple words to lead our lives by, yet how many of us take the initiative? I hope that people who read this will really look carefully at their reflection in the mirror and decide to make a change. Amen Father Stephen.

  3. It is not often that we are reminded to embrace the Gospel in such a human way. We can make the difference if we try. The finger pointing must stop. Stupidity and ignorance will always be with and around us. But maybe we can help to relinquish our power struggles and lessen our fears. Good thoughts to keep in mind.