Christ's thirst

POST BY AWentworth

I thirst [1], cried out Jesus just before he died.  Give me a drink [2].  The Lord asks for the help of those whom he has come to help.  It was about the sixth hour [3].  

From the heart of his passion comes the cry I thirst.  Jesus thirsts for the salvation of the world.  If you only knew what God is offering, and who it is that is saying to you: Give me a drink [4].  We are slow to recognise our saviour on the cross and elsewhere. I wonder if he is the Christ? [5]  His seeking our assistance surprises us. Is the Lord with us or not? [6]  

He wants more than anything to bring us back to the Father but finds us sometimes very resistant. Harden not your hearts [7].  The urgency of our situation often passes us by.  The hour is coming - in fact it is here already - when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth [8].  We have been called by Christ to be such worshippers but we are slow to throw ourselves into what we must do. Jesus suffering intensely at his appointed moment [9] is nevertheless in complete harmony himself, with everything he has done and with his mission from the Father.  Thirsting for the salvation of the world he came into it. Thirsting for the redemption of all he suffered and died for our sins.  However, in his passion, death and resurrection he slakes his own thirst and shares his divine life with others.  Anyone who drinks the water that I shall give, will never be thirsty again [10].

Jesus is our salvation.  We know that he really is the saviour of the world [11].  Our need of him continues to be very great.  Christ died for us while we were still sinners [12]. Baptism and the other sacraments are earnests of the enduring fidelity of One who is truly among us. He shares with us his greatness which has been permitted to become weak.  He knows our weakness and sets out to make us great.  Jesus, tired by the journey sat straight down by the well [13].  The Lord provides for us the water of life. What nourishes our faith he makes available to us. The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit [14].  In sustaining us he draws us deeper into the life of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  The well is deep [15].  This depth, however, is not incompatible with our forgetfulness of him.  Even baptised, we disappoint him by our slowness to understand and to live accordingly.  When challenges come we are inclined to complain rather than to embrace the way of the cross. Tormented by thirst , the people complained [16].   Christ himself is the vessel of honour lowered into the deep well.  We let him down neglecting both to honour him and to seek depth.  Yet he disconcerts us with his persistent love.  I have longed to eat this Passover with you before I suffer [17].  Lent invites us to look forward to the commemorating of great events but also to acknowledge immediately, in prayer and action, that God passionately desires that we should turn again to him.  I thirst, cries Jesus down the ages and through each phase of the life of each of us: give me a drink.  In this season we set about responding to the Lord’s cry for help with attentive devotion and with the generous deeds which prove love.

When (Jesus) asked the Samaritan woman for water to drink, he had already created the gift of faith within her and so ardently did he thirst for her faith that he kindled within her the fire of divine love [18].  The Lord thirsts for our salvation and our faith well-lived satisfy his thirst.  He longs not only our salvation but also that we should accept it and respond to it in faith.  Jesus’ deep desire that we believe in him and found our lives on that faith is not yet satisfied. A jar full of vinegar stood there, so putting a sponge soaked in vinegar on a hyssop stick, they held it up to his mouth. After Jesus had taken the vinegar, he said, It is accomplished: and bowing his head he gave up the spirit [19]. Is our faith like vinegar? Has it gone off?  Yet the sourness revives Jesus.  His death, willingly endured, is his appeal to us. We have been washed in the water of life. Bitter and sour we are not meant to be.  Our faith, whatever state it is in, is, nevertheless, that which Jesus seeks.  Humbly, he has put himself in the position of asking us to believe. Indeed he needs our faith so much as to cry out at its absence.  There is a responsibility being placed on us here which it is surely a delight to fulfil.   Jesus, who is the living water might have slaked his own thirst.  He chooses to be grateful for our trust.  What can assuage the divine thirst is in us.  What we hold up to him suffering need not be sour.  Our faith, strengthened this Lent, can enable us to meet our Saviour’s burning desire that we come back to God.  If you only knew what God is offering and who it is that is saying to you: Give me something to drink [20].

Christ’s thirst on Calvary is anticipated by his thirst at Jacob’s well.  There under the midday sun he met the Samaritan woman, discretely avoiding her critics.. His burning desire to save everyone is shown in his dealing with someone in a mess.   Jesus broke through convention to meet a searcher who might have been lost. What?  You are a Jew, and you ask me, a Samarian, for a drink? [21]  He abolished a long history of distance from God. He rescued a sinner who could easily have given up hope.  Jesus catches up with us.  Perhaps a propitious moment is when we are avoiding other people.  He knows everything about us.  He told me all I have ever done [22].  His knowledge of her doings did not dismay the Samaritan at the well and it surely does not discourage us?  Jesus finds us, like her, living with the consequences of our many mistakes.   We approach the well.  Give me something to drink.  Whose words are these? Without pretence, Jesus asks us for help, although it is us who need his assistance. We turn to the Lord, seeking something from him, yet he asks something of us.  His humble request for our help might come us through the sufferings of others, which we might alleviate.  We have no bucket so we let down Jesus, the vessel of honour, into the deep well of the water of life.  When Christ rises again he shares his new life with us. And he enables us to share that new life with others. 

Homily by Fr Peter Gallagher SJ

[1]    John 19.28

[2]    John 4.7

[3]    John 4.6 and see Matthew 27.45 from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land

[4]    John 4.10

[5]    John 4.29

[6]    Exodus 17.7

[7]    Psalm (95) 94.8

[8]    John 4.23

[9]    Romans 5.6

[10]   John 4.14

[11]   John 4.42

[12]   Romans 5.8

[13]   John 4.6

[14]   Romans 5.5

[15]   John 4.11

[16]   Exodus 17.3

[17]   Luke 22.15

[18]   Roman Missal, ‘Preface for the Third Sunday of Lent’

[19]    John 19.29-30

[20]    John 4.10

[21]    John 4.9

[22]    John 4.39