Periodically people speak of somebody like Trump as The Antichrist. He’s not. He’s an antichrist. Not The Antichrist. Antichrists are a dime a dozen and always have been. John noted 2000 years ago that there were already plenty of them buzzing around in his day (cf. 1 John 2:18).
Trump plays to the fetishes of a particular conservative US subculture. But (like, for instance, Hitler) outside a particular cultural ecosystem, he attracts nobody and is laughable outside his ecological niche. The Antichrist will have perfected doing on a global scale what previous antichrists have only yet been able to do on a local scale. We are a clever species at cracking such problems. And revelation assures us we will get there.
Meanwhile, disciples of Jesus have the tools to keep their eyes on the prize and not get snookered, if they will only listen to the Spirit. Here’s the Catechism of the Catholic Church, spelling it out for those who have ears to hear:
673 Since the Ascension Christ’s coming in glory has been imminent, even though “it is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority.”. This eschatological coming could be accomplished at any moment, even if both it and the final trial that will precede it are “delayed”.
674 The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by “all Israel”, for “a hardening has come upon part of Israel” in their “unbelief” toward Jesus. St. Peter says to the Jews of Jerusalem after Pentecost: “Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.” St. Paul echoes him: “For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?” The “full inclusion” of the Jews in the Messiah’s salvation, in the wake of “the full number of the Gentiles”, will enable the People of God to achieve “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”, in which “God may be all in all”.
The Church’s ultimate trial
675 Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.
676 The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism.
677 The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection. The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.
II. TO JUDGE THE LIVING AND THE DEAD
678 Following in the steps of the prophets and John the Baptist, Jesus announced the judgment of the Last Day in his preaching.Then will the conduct of each one and the secrets of hearts be brought to light. Then will the culpable unbelief that counted the offer of God’s grace as nothing be condemned. Our attitude to our neighbor will disclose acceptance or refusal of grace and divine love. On the Last Day Jesus will say: “Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.”
679 Christ is Lord of eternal life. Full right to pass definitive judgment on the works and hearts of men belongs to him as redeemer of the world. He “acquired” this right by his cross. The Father has given “all judgment to the Son”. Yet the Son did not come to judge, but to save and to give the life he has in himself. By rejecting grace in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one’s works, and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the Spirit of love.
The irony of the present hour is that the biggest zealots for a secular messianism founded on law, force, fear, blood and iron, fantasizing about imposing a utopian Reich of Heaven on earth, are the Greatest Christians of All Time, dreaming of a world purged of their enemies, a Church purged of all but themselves, and a Christian Nationalist regime of Good White Christians enjoying peace and prosperity while keeping their guns aimed at the rest of us.
Meanwhile, I have scarcely found anybody who actually attacks Jesus. What I continually find are non-Christians and former Christians begging on their knees for Christians to show them Jesus, imitate Jesus, act like Jesus, being told by the Greatest Christians of All Time, “Screw you! Me! My guns! My stuff! My money! You are just complaining because you are trying to trick me into sacrificing so that you can be lazy, or steal from me, or guilt me into denying myself for you. Knuckle under to my power!”
“So many sheep without! So many wolves within!” – St. Augustine of Hippo