After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” – John 19:28
When we read these words, we tend to assume that Jesus’ thirst was a bodily thirst. After all, the man had suffered terrible torture, carried a heavy burden for some distance, and hung suspended on a cross in the midday sun for several hours. Yet, what among Christ’s life would really lead us to believe that a reference to a bodily need would be among His final words?
Indeed, Our Lord’s cry was not for wine or for water, but for the love of souls. In crying out His thirst, He was pleading with us – with you, and with me – to know in our hearts how very much He loves us, and begging us to return that love to Him.
A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. -John 19:29
When they heard his cry, the soldiers cruelly gave him sour wine. Yet, are you and I any better? How much time do we spend soaking in His love for us? How much time and effort do we spend, actively returning that love? Do we feel it in our bones, so that the mere thought of Him brings us to our knees?
No. Instead of giving him our very best, the finest wine from our tables, we give him our sour left overs. We spend time in prayer… when we can. We give to the poor… when we have a little extra money. We offer help to one who’s struggling… when we’re not in a rush to be somewhere else.
When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. -John 19:30
And yet, Christ knew our inadequacies. He didn’t argue with those soldiers, “No, no, I said I’m thirsty! That sour wine isn’t going to help at all!” He “received the sour wine,” spoke His final words, “It is finished,
and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
He knows we are sinners, and yet he loves us. He knows that we will offer him our leftovers, and yet he loves us. He knows that a tragic few will strive for perfection, and yet he loves us.
Loves us so much that he died on the cross for us. Loves us so much that his cry continues, I thirst!
He accepted the sour wine – our sour wine – knowing that it was the very reason why he had to offer Himself up.
And still he thirsts.
Reflection inspired by the book, 33 Days to Morning Glory: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat In Preparation for Marian Consecration, by Fr. Michael E. Gaitley, MIC (affiliate link, thanks for your support!)