“Let him kiss me with kisses of his mouth, for your love is better than wine.”1
This opening verse of the Song of Songs is on the lips of Mother Church tonight. This is the night when the myth of Cupid and Psyche becomes the true myth that enters human history and frailty. In the story, the god Cupid visits the mortal Psyche in complete darkness so that she will not be struck dead from fear at his unfathomable beauty. Just so, Jesus Christ, the Godman, hides Himself in the form of bread and wine as He visits His beloved Bride, the Church. We are wounded creatures so afraid of marvelous light. Therefore light becomes so small that we hold Him in our hand and taste Him on our tongue. The strength that holds the universe taut becomes indescribably weak so that He can nurse us with His own power.
“Why is tonight different from all other nights?” This question sung at every Passover Seder is met with an even more glorious answer as the mystery of Christ’s Body and Blood are presented to the human race. Tonight, the lies that enslaved you and left you believing that you are alone and unwanted are shattered by His perfect humility. Tonight, the weight that you carry is no longer yours to carry alone. Tonight, He becomes one with you.
Tonight, He begins to lead you out of Egypt. But you must give Him permission to fight for you and open the sea, that is, His very heart that will be torn open by a lance in mere hours. Tonight, you must heed Moses who urges you to choose life and not death. Because the kiss of Old Testament poetry is not the only kiss bestowed tonight. Judas will kiss his master and friend, but it is a kiss of betrayal. Satan will strike at the future head of the Church, Peter, the strong, fearless man made weak by a little girl. Every one of the feet washed by the Master’s hands will run away. Every friend embraced in the Eucharist will disappear. As he bolts through the trees, the young man’s nakedness lays bare our fickle, distrusting hearts. The One who offers His kiss to humanity is met with only spit from the lips of His creatures.
Tonight, we must come to terms with the fact that we are the ones who will mock and spit on Jesus before the High Priest. We are the ones who will condemn Him and forget His goodness. We are the ones who will beat Him, scourged Him, and crown Him with the thorns of our sin.
But we must not be like Judas and let our sorrowful, disgusting story end there. Tonight, we can kneel beside our Spouse in the garden, holding His hands that are stained red with bloody sweat. At the altar of repose, we can join our feeble surrender to His perfect offering to the Father. Tonight, as we enter the mystery of Gethsemane, Jesus will teach us what it is to be a Son fully alive in the Father. He will teach us perfect obedience. He will teach us perfect grief.
And as He stands to meet Judas, He will teach us perfect love.
Why is tonight different from all other nights? Because tonight God’s heart is broken by a kiss.
1- I’ve been writing a lot about Christ the Bridegroom over this last week. Because we live in a culture that is so confused about love and marriage, it can be strange and maybe even feel irreverent to read. But this is an aspect of Catholic spirituality known as bridal mysticism. It originates with God Himself, who through Old Testament passages in books like Isaiah, Hosea, and Jeremiah, as well as the words of Christ and the book of Revelation, reveals Himself to be the lover and spouse of the human race and therefore of each human soul. This spirituality is notably developed by St. John of the Cross and St. Bernard of Clairvaux, two men whose lives beautifully model Christ’s masculine soul and unrelenting sacrifice. This isn’t a form of prayer that brings God into human terms so we can make him sound like he’s a boyfriend we can write crappy love songs about and play on Christian radio as “art.” Rather, this is an ascent of the human soul to the bosom of the Trinity, the perfect communion of love that all human love points to.