Msgr. Charles Pope • June 20, 2017 – There is a specific depiction of Christ known as Christ Pantocrator. It was widespread in the ancient world and still is today. The title “Pantocrator” is most often translated as “The Almighty One” or “The Omnipotent One.” It comes from the Greek words παντός (pantos, meaning all) and κράτος (kratos, meaning strength, might, or power).
In the particular image at right, Christ is seated (as a sign of authority). In many of the specific images he holds a book, sometimes open and sometimes closed. If the book is open, there can be a few of many different texts displayed. In some of the images there is an interesting juxtaposition of texts meant to provoke thought and lead to both catechesis and repentance.
Among the more interesting and provocative juxtapositions of texts is the one commonly used in the Neocatechumenal communities (see above right). On the left-hand page of the open book is the Gospel from today’s mass (Tue. of 11th Week), in which Jesus says, “Love your enemies” (Matt 5:44). On the right is the one in which Jesus says, “I am coming soon” (Rev. 22:7).
Provocative, indeed—and a sober call repentance! It is hard to see how we could hope to enter Heaven with hatred or vengeful anger for our enemies in our heart. With that eating away at our heart it wouldn’t be Heaven! Therefore, we should consider our final end and beg for the grace to love our enemies by praying for them, working for their conversion, and supplying their basic human needs (cf Rom 12:20; Prov. 25:21). Our goal is to be at one with them in Heaven, and even here in this life if it be possible and rooted in the truth.
Jesus sets apart the love of one’s enemies as the “acid test” for Christians:
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matt 5:44-48).
There’s nothing like a passage such as this one to get us on our knees asking for grace and mercy! Indeed, we will surely fail if we seek to love our enemies only through the power of our own flesh or from our own fallen nature.
Jesus is coming soon and He will look for this fruit in us. All the more reason, then, to ask it of Him:
Good Jesus, who alone can save me from my hard heart, grant me the grace to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me. I am too weak, self-centered, and thin-skinned to do it on my own. I consent, good and merciful Jesus, to this work of yours in me. Accomplish this, Lord, by your grace!