The Power of a Kiss

When I was a little girl I would spend a few weeks in the summer with my Greek grandmother (Yiayia) and grandfather (Papou). They immigrated from Greece in their young adulthood and settled in a small mill town in Pennsylvania.

Yiayia loved to hold my head with both hands and give me multiples kisses on the cheek. I realize now what a sign of adoration this was. In my childhood I considered it to be an annoyance. Presently, I find myself doing the exact same thing with my beautiful three-month-old granddaughter, Penelope Katherine. I think of Yiayia often when I do this.

What is the meaning of a kiss? Between a husband and wife it shows love, respect, and admiration. It can be representative of passion or every day devotion. My parents kissed each other often as I was growing up, and I have emulated this with my husband. In a loving marriage, kindness goes a long way and a kiss is an affirmation of the bond.

In 1 Peter 5:14 he tell us, “Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus.”

When I greet a close friend or family member, I embrace and kiss them as a sign of friendship and in the spirit of Christ’s love. I have done this all my life, and it’s part of who I am.

When I kiss the hand of my spiritual father upon greeting him, I am venerating the priesthood. Wishing for a blessing, I know that kissing his hand is not about the man but about the grace that he was given at his ordination. I deeply admire this part of my Orthodoxy and the love for Christ that it symbolizes.

Judas Iscariot kissed Jesus on Holy Thursday in the Garden of Gethsemane. In the Idiomelon 2, Mode 2 hymn it says, “Judas, the transgressor of the Law, who at the supper dipped his hand in the dish with You, O Lord, lawlessly extended his hands to take the pieces of silver. He who calculated the price of the fragrant oil was not afraid to sell You, the priceless One. He who offered his feet for you, the Master, to wash them kissed You deceitfully in order to betray You to the lawless. Thrown out of the company of Apostles, and having thrown down the thirty pieces of silver, he did not see Your Resurrection on the third day; through which, have mercy on us.”

The fact that Judas committed his betrayal through a kiss makes his act all the more egregious. To take a sign of love and friendship and pervert it in such a way is unthinkable. But God in the flesh triumphs over evil through death and resurrection. The light always shines over darkness.

May you be one with God this week and bestow many kisses on friends and family. There are so many temptations every day in this life, but if we try to live in communion with Christ, we can emulate His grace and love in a truly meaningful way.

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Joanne Jamis Cain is a steward of the Holy Trinity…
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