A kiss can be one of the most intimate human expressions. Between parent and child, husband and wife, loved ones, people we care about, it is an outward expression of an inward grace – a true sacrament. It expresses a bond between two people we sometimes call love. It can also express the opposite emotion – we might call it the kiss of death. Judas kissed Jesus. Fortunately the former is far more common. There’s one kiss I’ve found overwhelming this week.
It’s a kiss repeatedly shown on TV. Captain William Swenson of the US Army, who was awarded the Medal of Honor, was shown helping a severely wounded Sergeant Kenneth Westbrook onto a medevac helicopter during the battle for which Swenson was awarded the medal. After helping the sergeant onto the chopper, Captain Swenson leans in, and kisses Westbrook on his head. In the middle of a firefight still raging. In fact, as the chopper lifts off, the sound of gunfire is loud and clear. Two soldiers in the chopper wore helmet cameras, so the entire episode can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=en1ZHMANDkg. The kiss is at the 4 minute mark. The Sergeant died in an Army hospital about a month later.
In that heartbreaking kiss, the love we can have for one another is demonstrated in a most powerful form. This is the love we describe as the Second Great Commandment. Love one another as we love ourselves. We are capable of this kind of affection and care. It is the incarnational love that affirms God’s presence in and love for each of us.