Today is Good Friday, and Christians are called to meditate deeply on the Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus. Let us briefly meditate on the his words “I thirst” (Jn 19;28), which he says moments before his death. I find it fascinating because (unlike us) Jesus, as far as I can tell, rarely remarks on what he needs or how he feels. But now he communicates his complete dehydration. As both True God and True Man, Jesus lets us know what he needs and feels.
As True Man, he is exhausted and totally parched through immeasurable suffering. As we pray from Psalm 22 today in the Office of Readings:
My heart has become like wax, it is melted within my breast.
Parched as burnt clay is my throat, my tongue cleaves to my jaws.
Jesus is truly thirsty; it is no illusion or dramatic effect. The soldiers will respond to this need and raise a wet sponge to his lips. Some theologians, like Dr. Scott Hahn in The Fourth Cup, emphasize how Jesus, by declaring his thirst, will then fulfill the Old Covenant Passover by receiving the vinegar that will be offered him, thus preparing the world for the New and Everlasting Covenant by his death and Resurrection.
As True God, however, Jesus thirsts for something even greater than any personal or social good. As the saints, like Theresa of Calcutta, have often said, Jesus thirsts for souls, for you and me, for us, who are deep in the turbulent waters of this particular moment of Salvation History, a history that you and I are actively living out. Jesus is calling out for our free response to his grace, leading to a real change of life. Our desire, in the words of St. Josemaria, “to begin and begin again” in our spiritual life is the response, the offering, a real quenching of Jesus’ thirst on the Cross. Lord Jesus, your thirst allows us to receive the gift of your grace, the Living Water!