Station Church: Santa Balbina
We noted in our last consideration that daggers were used to murder Julius Caesar. The effect was just as tragic as if the murders had used swords. The smallness of the instrument did not lessen the effects. In like manner, it must be said of Judas that he did not lay violent hands on Christ when he met Him in the Garden of Olives. No, he did not seize or strike the Sacred Redeemer – he simply kissed Him, but that kiss was more tragic than if he had thrust a sword into the Sacred Heart of Christ.
Christ had been kissed before, but my, how different were the circumstances and results! First, there were the kisses of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph. Who can number the fond caresses that Mary must have showered on the Infant Jesus as she nurtured and fondled Him in her pure maternal arms? How often must not St. Joseph have covered the Infant Countenance with tender paternal affection?
Second, may we not conjecture that the Magi embraced the tiny Infant as Mary formally presented the Infant God to the first of the Gentiles who came to pay Him homage? Certainly, the act would be normal if not imperative.
Third, it can hardly be imagined that the Holy Simeon and Anna present at the presentation in the temple, could have held the adorable Child of promise in their arms and not pressed their holy lips to the pink little hands of the long-sought Messias.
Fourth, we are certain from the text of Holy Scripture itself that the public sinner Mary Magdalen imprinted the kiss of contrite sorrow on the sacred feet of Christ, and arose from the encounter holier and greater then when she stooped to embrace her God.
Fifth, we are told that the great St. John the beloved disciple rested his youthful head on the breast of the Master at the Last Supper. There is a Persian fable of piece clay made fragrant by lying on a rose: the perfume of the rose passed into the clay. So it was with John. He crept unto the bosom of the Master and his Master’s spirit of love and gentleness passed into his life and transformed it.
Last, we have the awful picture of Judas pressing his lips to those of the Son of God, feigning friendship.
The lesson here is powerful. Those who approached Christ in love and veneration, in true penance and firm resolve, left His embrace renewed and strengthened. Those like Judas, whose hearts are turned toward evil, may be very near Christ and not be holy in character. Judas was three years with Christ, heard His words, lived in the atmosphere of His love and remained unchanged. An empty bottle, hermetically sealed, may lie long in the ocean and continue to be dry within. A heart sealed to Christ’s love may rest on His bosom for years and not be blessed. Only when a pure or contrite heart is opened to receive His grace, does closeness to Him sanctify.
See how you can spread devotion to the Passion by assisting in the campaign to provide my publication of meditations on the Passion written by a Passionist priest for novices. May this little effort of ours bear much fruit in the reform of the Church, starting with our own souls and the souls of as many future priests we can reach! Find more information out at the BOOKS4SEMS campaign.