"I thirst." (John 19:28)
"I thirst," Jesus groans from the Cross. Though the cause of Jesus' groan here is the utterly unique physical and spiritual anguish he is experiencing during his execution, the experience of thirst has hardly been a stranger to him.
"And Jesus entered a Samaritan village, and a woman of Samaria came to draw water. And he said to her, 'Give me a drink'." In other words, "I thirst." His thirst by the Samaritan well goes far beyond the physical thirst for water. As he is about to teach the Samaritan woman, there is a deeper thirst in him – a thirst for her.
There is a deeper thirst in her, in each of us. For true communion with one another, to be truly known. She discovers it: "This man has told me everything I have done. Perhaps he is the Christ." And there is an even deeper thirst, indeed the deepest: the thirst for God. "I will give you water," Jesus tells her, "such that you will not thirst again. This water will well up to eternal life. Thirst for this water."
In his most famous teaching, the Beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls "blessed" those who "thirst": "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness." Here is a third thirst everywhere – in addition to thirsting for true relationship, and communion with God – that was always present in Christ's life. Thirst for justice and freedom from oppression and enslavement – "righteousness" – in our individual lives, and in our communities and society. Thirst always for this righteousness, Jesus teaches us.
"I thirst." Jesus always thirsts. For communion with us. For communion with God. For justice to reign. Here on the Cross, he teaches us again, in the most dramatic terms, what is worth thirsting for. Here on the Cross, Jesus begins, once and for all, to quench the thirst of our lives and of our world.
Do I allow myself to experience the deepest thirsts in my life? Longing for God? Longing for true relationship with others? Longing for justice for the oppressed? Where are my thirsts leading me?
Christ on the Cross, during this Lenten season, unite me to you in your thirst. Help me to desire rightly, in a manner worthy of my deepest identity. Lead me to thirst for you, for true relationship with those around me, with the poor and the oppressed. Help me, in my thirst, to follow you and give my life in selfless acts for these deepest needs, uniting my acts to yours on the Cross.
Contributed by Fr. Lou DelFra, CSC