If there were one desire that dominated Jesus' life and mission, it was His desire to love others and to enable them to love Him in return. When Jesus cried, "I thirst," He was asking, "Let Me love you. Let Me love you." This, my friends, is the beautiful refrain of the Good Friday Love Song, Let me love you.
From the moment Jesus was arrested in the garden, He was mocked, cursed, spat upon, and humiliated. But His bloody passion began at the pillar where He was brutally scourged and it continued in the courtyard where the roman soldiers wove a crown of thorns and mercilessly dug it into the skull of Jesus. How He bled! This face, this face disfigured with blood, this face racked with pain this pitiful face did not melt the cruelty of the roman Soldiers. For bowing low in mockery, they shouted, "Hail, King of the Jews! "
The excessive bleeding from both the scourging and the crowning caused dehydration and Jesus could barely whisper, "I thirst. "
Hanging there upon the cross in excruciating thirst, Jesus recalls the psalms of thirst, the psalms of desire and He identified with Psalm 69 in a way the psalmist could never imagine. Listen to this psalm.
"Abba, save me. I'm sinking in deep mud. There is no solid ground. The waters are rising above my neck and the waves are threatening to drown me. I'm so worn out from crying for help and my throat is aching. My eyes are so strained from looking for you to save me. Father, my enemies, who tell lies about me, are more numerous than the hairs on my head. They are so strong. They hate me and they want to kill me. Later the psalmist continues. In my thirst, they gave me vinegar to drink.
As I reflected upon this portion of the psalm I could not help but wonder how a person so surrounded by water could be so thirsty. Then I recalled these words from the Song of Songs. "Deep water can never quench love and flood waters can never wash love away. In a sense, flood waters crashed against Mt. Calvary on that first Good Friday, flood waters of anger and hatred, of insults and curses, of resentment and jealousy. These waters did not and could not quench Jesus' thirst to love and be loved. And these waters could not and did not wash away the loving mercy of God. For as it is written in the Song of Songs, "Love is stronger that death." God's love will endure forever. He will never stop loving us. Never.
The psalm now continues. "Their insults have broken my heart. I looked for sympathy and there was none."
In fourth word from the cross Jesus longed for the loving presence of His Father. Now, in His fifth word, He groans for a bit of human affection and human compassion. Scripture tells us that a Roman soldier heard His cry. He ran to get a dry sponge; he dipped it into wine and putting in on a reed he pressed it against the lips of Jesus thinking that this would assuage His thirst. Who was this soldier? What was His name? We don't know but we do know that this Roman soldier brought a bit of human tenderness to Skull Hill on that first Good Friday. Jesus cried, "I thirst." And this Roman soldier attempted to quench this thirst.
My friends, God created you for intimacy not because he needed you but because he loves you. He longs to have a personal relationship with each and every one of you. Will you quench this thirst of His? And friends, God loves each and every one of you passionately. He yearns to have you love him in return. Will you quench this thirst of His? O my sisters and brothers, fall in love with Jesus. Fall in love with him again and again and thirst for him, thirst for him like a deer thirsts for running water.
And now, look at our crucified Lord. His arms are outstretched waiting and ready to embrace you, ready and waiting to welcome you home to his love. Are you ready to say "Here I am, Lord. I give you the gift of myself and I pray that this gift satisfy your thirst."Sr. Geraldine Calabrese, MPF