While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign (σημεῖον), saying, ‘The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.’ At once he came up to Jesus and said, ‘Greetings, Rabbi!’ and kissed him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, do what you are here to do.’ Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.” (Mt 26: 47-50)

This Friday, on the day of my Lord's crucifixion, let me reflect a bit on this moment leading up to His arrest. The obvious lesson of the infamous “kiss of Judas” lies in its perverted meaning. It is still a “kiss,” the usual, instantly-recognizable “sign” of good will and/or friendship, but Judas uses the kiss, along with his “hello” (“Greetings, Rabbi!”) as a “green light” for my Lord’s executioners. This is a “kiss of death,” first and foremost for Judas himself.

So my external motions, symbolic actions/words do not “guarantee” their usual meanings. I must be mindful that my heart’s intention is aligned with the intended meaning of my external actions and words, be it in prayer and other forms of worship, or in my interaction with other people. Otherwise, - and this is an unpleasant truth, - I can do serious damage to myself and others. I can potentially slip into a habitual “fakeness” or posing, losing touch with my heart’s actual state and ceasing to grow in true communion with God and others. This is why I am reminded, in the Byzantine Prayer Before Communion, “…neither like Judas will I give You a kiss; but like the thief will I confess You: Remember me, O Lord in Your Kingdom.

Today let me be mindful of my words and actions, that my “yes” be “yes” and my “no” be “no” (Mt 5:37). Ad let me take care to watch my heart, “cleaning house” on a daily basis, as best I can, in honesty before God, myself, and others.


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