Friday, April 18, 2014

"Rejoice, Rabbi"
 "And immediately approaching Jesus [Judas] said, 'Rejoice, rabbi': and he kissed Him."--Mt 26:49

The apostate who ran to the high priests with the Bread of Heaven still in his mouth betrayed our Lord with a kiss.  What is a symbol of filial love, the kiss (φιληματος), Judas turned into a symbol of betrayal.  He who was one of the twelve chosen by Christ to follow Him gave full rein to his greed and allowed Satan entrance into his heart.  Since he betrayed with an act of love the Lover of Mankind, it is fitting that Jesus said, "It would be better for this man if he were never born."  And if the betrayal by an act of love were not horrific enough, ponder the words Judas spoke: "Rejoice, rabbi."

"Rejoice."  It is the same greeting spoken to the Theotokos those decades before by the angel at the announcement of the Lord's coming.  It is the greeting the risen Lord Himself will speak to the myrrh-bearers on the Paschal morn.  How hideous, then, that the apostate spoke the same word in betrayal!  And yet there is a hint of truth in that greeting, unbeknownst to Judas.  For it is Jesus' joy to do His Father's will: for this He came into the world.  It is His will that Jesus be crucified, that He may be risen and raise mankind with Himself.  Jesus knows the path that He is following; He knows the prophets, and He knows what is to come.  Thus He sees true joy hidden in these horrific events: He sees the Resurrection to come.  Because we, too, see this, we call this day Good Friday.

By this act of twisted love the betrayer opened the door for the events of today, when Jesus is crucified by the call of the crowd and the consent of the guards.  But he also opened the door for the events of the Sabbath and the Sunday, for by His death Christ will break the gates of Hell and trample death, rising to new life while bringing mankind with Him.

But today is the day of the Crucifixion and the Burial: today is Jesus' body laid in a new tomb after being anointed with spices and wrapped in clean linen.  Today we mourn, but we expect what is to come, the miraculous and glorious events Judas unwittingly foretold in his greeting of betrayal: "Rejoice."

When time had come for Christ to die,
and Judas had betrayed Him by
a twisted kiss for silver's gain,
the sky did not hold back its rain.

His Blood upon the ground did fall
as guards brought Him the bitter gall.
The sun did darken in that hour
for sorrow did it overpower.

In two spots did blood run that day,
from the betrayer, from betrayed,
in Akeldama's soiled field,
on Golgotha where thunder pealed.

Sixth hour passed when He was nailed,
Ninth hour now the One who's hailed
as He Who comes in the Lord's name
will die the death of the infame.

One thief to Heaven, one to Hell:
the Psalm is now the Lord's death knell.
And letting out His final breath,
the Christ has fin'lly come to death.

Silence now reigns upon the earth,
soaked by the blood of countless worth.
In sorrow is now sealed the Tomb,
of glorious birth the second womb.

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