Mass Readings: April 20

First: Isaiah 50:4-9
Resp: Psalm 69:8-10,21-22,31,33-34
Gospel: Matthew 26:14-25

THE KISS OF DEATH

"One of you is about to betray Me." –Matthew 26:21

It's easy to picture Jesus saying: "I gave My back to those who beat Me, My cheeks to those who plucked My beard" (Is 50:6). Jesus could also say that He gave His cheeks to those who kissed Him in betrayal (Lk 22:48). He did not shield His face from buffets, spitting, and kisses of betrayal (Is 50:6).

Jesus knew beforehand what was in Judas' heart (Jn 13:11; 2:25). Yet Jesus, Who is Hope incarnate, hoped against hope (Rm 4:18) that Judas could change, and He pulled out all the stops to try to change Judas. Even after Judas gave Jesus the kiss of betrayal and death, Jesus still called Judas "Friend" (Mt 26:50).

Judas was an ambitious man. Judas and Peter both did horrible things to Jesus. Peter repented in humility. Judas either could not repent or would not repent. Judas betrayed not only Jesus, but also betrayed himself. By his choices during his three years of following Jesus, Judas put himself and his own heart in such a dreadful position that he could not turn back and repent.

On this Wednesday of Holy Week, sometimes called "Spy Wednesday," fall at the feet of Jesus and worship Him alone. Cast off all worldly ambition (1 Jn 2:15), die to yourself, and set your heart on Jesus alone. At the Good Friday liturgy, when you venerate the cross of Jesus, think seriously about the kiss you will give to the hands or feet of the crucified Jesus. Will your kiss be the kiss of obedient faith and abandonment to God, or will it be the kiss of death?

PRAYER: "Is it I, Lord?" (see Mt 26:22)
PROMISE: "The Lord God is my Help, therefore I am not disgraced." –Is 50:7
PRAISE: John knows full well his capability of abandoning Jesus and prays for the strength to continue serving the Lord in love.