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'I Thirst'

Thursday, April 14, 2011
"After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said, I thirst." John 19:28

This passage from the Gospel of St John records a truly poignant moment in the Passion of Our Lord. At its centre is something very human, something common to us all: thirst. All of us have experienced thirst to some degree and those who have experienced acute thirst know the distress it can bring. Real thirst can leave the body reeling and the mind confused. Whilst we can cope with hunger, indeed whilst we can live without food for some three weeks, we cannot do without water for more than a few days. The dying often experience intense thirst and it is as if the water, of which our bodies are largely constituted, is seeping away and with it the life that it symbolises.

In declaring this most human of needs, Christ, in His near final words upon the cross, spells out for us His true humanity. He declares that He has united Himself to us and shares with us in His sinless body all that is present in full human nature, the nature we are called daily to grow into and fulfil. The Roman soldier, no doubt moved by Jesus’ humble request, acquiesces and grants him some of the vinegar wine which he has. In this small act of human kindness we can see mirrored the far greater act of love which is Christ's death on the cross, a death given that our thirst may finally be quenched.

All of us thirst, but not just for water. We experience that deeper thirst at the very heart of our being for the One who gives us life and who promises life for all eternity. He never leaves our side and, even in the depths of distress, He lifts up to our lips the saving water of His blood, shed for us that we may know Him and be united to Him. “Oh God, you are my God for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting. My body pines for you, like a dry weary land without water.” (Psalm 62)

Graham Hunt OP


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