If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Thirsty? Come and Drink

The Last Seven Statements of Jesus
His Fifth Word
“I am thirsty.”  (John 19:28)

It started in the Garden. The savior prayed with such anguish, His sweat mingled with His blood and dripped to the ground. It was in the Garden that soldiers beat Him with their fists, pulled His beard, spit in His face. Then they dragged Him into the city and shuffled Him from Pilate to Herod, and back again to Pilate. They whipped Him without mercy, hardly giving Him time to catch His breath. Then they pressed a crown of thorns into His forehead. Blood oozed into His eyes and tracked down His cheeks. Mocking soldiers then laid the cross across His shoulders and forced Him to carry it to the where He would die.

“I am thirsty.”  

As Jesus groaned through parched lips, someone dipped a sponge in vinegar mixed with gall and brought it to His mouth (Matthew 27:34). The vinegar they offered Jesus was weak wine commonly used in Palestine to quench thirst. Gall was a bitter liquid with narcotic and anesthetic properties. Soldiers often gave it to prisoners about to be crucified as a way to dull their senses so they wouldn’t fight against the nails being hammered into their limbs. Sometimes friends gave it to those hanging on the cross to lessen their agony.

When Jesus tasted the gall He turned away. He would not drink the drug. He would finish the Father’s plan to its fullest course and its fullest cost. A short while later, someone gave Him the plain vinegar.

“I am thirsty.”

Although nailed to the cross, Jesus was the Lord of Heaven. The King of the Universe. He never needed to thirst. Or hunger. Or suffer pain. Yet He demonstrated by His life and by His death a ‘hunger and thirst for righteousness.’ Even on the cross, He would accomplish His Father’s will. That is why His death – and His thirst – serves as an illustration for us.

In his Confessions, St. Augustine wrote, "God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.”

Restlessness. Thirst.

We who belong to Christ through our faith and baptism “have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer [we] who live, but Christ lives in [us]” (Galatians 2:20). When the Holy Spirit enters our lives He always creates within us a restlessness for God. A hunger for God. A thirst for God. If we are not restless for God, if we do not increasingly hunger and thirst for Him, we ought to wonder why.

“I am thirsty.”

You may remember another time Jesus was thirsty. I bring it to our attention now because it speaks to this whole point of thirsting for righteousness. You’ll find the familiar passage in John 4: There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” . . . . Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?”

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” . . . .“Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again;  . . . but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”  

He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’;  for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” (John 4:7ff)

Living water.

Jesus told her to go bring her husband, and she answered, “I have no husband.”  Of course Jesus knew of her sins. We cannot lie to the Lord. That is why He told her, “You have had five bed partners, and the one you now have is not your husband.” 

At first, many things seem to quench our spiritual thirst, but in the end they serve simply to anesthetize us to that thirst.  One of the lessons in this passage about the Samaritan woman is that her harlotry anesthetized her against knowing of God’s thirst-quenching fountain. And in the same way, our sins can dull us to that same fountain. 

Here is what the Holy Spirit tells us through the prophet Hosea (4:12):  Harlotry, wine and new wine take away the understanding . . . For a spirit of harlotry has led them astray, And they have played the harlot, departing from their God.

Hosea continues in chapter 5:  Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God. For a spirit of harlotry is within them, and they do not know the Lord.

St. John spoke of counterfeit thirst-quenchers as “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life” (1 John 2:16). But everyone reading this knows in the heart of hearts that counterfeits can never fully satisfy. The only place to quench our God-induced thirst, our God-induced restlessness, is at His fountain, devoting ourselves to the daily and lifelong drinking from His fountain by confession, reception of the Sacraments, daily prayer, Scripture study, and humble obedience to the Holy Spirit.

“I am thirsty.”

Have we become anesthetized to God by our sins? Have we drunk from the fountain of worldly pleasures, ideas, and philosophies? There is only one method of escape, to be free to know the thirst-quenching life of God: Come to Jesus, humbly and penitent – and then drink from His fountain.

Oh, Lord! Please, please, give us a holy thirst that ever draws us to the fountain of living water!  

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