God’s Thirst For Us
“I thirst” ~ Saint Teresa of Calcutta
Physical and spiritual thirst are front and center in today’s 1st Reading (Exodus 17:3-7) and Gospel (John 4:5-42), with our Gospel Passage in particular providing many great reflection points as we embark on the 3rd week of the Lenten journey. But first, let’s check in on Moses and the great Exodus.
The Israelites are literally on the verge of dying of thirst as they angrily grumble aloud, wondering why Moses ever made them leave Egypt, their place of slavery. “Was it just to have us die here of thirst with our children and our livestock?” they asked him in exasperation and desperation. Moses, upon crying out to the Lord for assistance, was instructed to strike the rock in Horeb. In doing so, God assures him, water will flow for the people to drink. Despite this miracle, the Israelites‘ faith continued to waver. We’re told in the closing words of this passage that they continued to incessantly quarrel amongst themselves, doubting whether or not the Lord was even in their midst.
Through prayer, we can all grow to achieve a boundless confidence and trust in the divine mercy of Jesus. Through fortitude, a gift of the Holy Spirit that God dispenses to all who ask for it, we develop the courage to accept the crosses and sufferings which bring immense goodness to our souls and Christ’s Bride, the Church. By humbling ourselves beneath the cross as we climb the proverbial mountain of holiness, that cross will one day lead to heavenly glory.
Devotees of the great Saint Padre Pio are no doubt familiar with his Prayer to accept God’s will. The prayer goes as follows:
“Lord, God of my heart, You alone know and see all my troubles. You alone are aware that all my distress springs from my fear of losing You, of offending You, from my fear of not loving You as much as I should love and desire to love You. If You, to whom everything is present and who alone can see the future, know that it is for Your greater glory and for my salvation that I should remain in this state, then let it be so. I don’t want to escape from it. Give me the strength to fight and obtain the prize due to strong souls. ~ Amen”
We must always remember that there is a purpose to suffering. No cross, no crown.
In our Gospel (John 4:5-42), a beautiful exchange between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well, we look in as Jesus draws her into dialogue, just as he seeks to do with us by way of prayer. He reveals himself to her gradually, beginning with his simple request to “give me a drink.”
It’s interesting to see how things evolve as the conversation unfolds. The woman first refers to Jesus as a ”Jew,” then “Sir,” then a “Prophet” and ultimately, “The Messiah, the Christ.” In this passage, we see that Jesus thirsts for our faith, our love, our hope and trust in Him. Jesus’ thirst for us, both individually and collectively, coupled with our thirst for him, a thirst that exists in every single person regardless of whether he or she knows it or not, whether he or she even feels it or not, is the foundation for the communal love that binds heaven and earth, a love meant to be shared lavishly between God and all of human kind, his most precious creation. The soul saving waters of Baptism, symbolically ubiquitous throughout this Gospel passage, perhaps most evident when Jesus tells the woman “the water I shall give will become in you a sprint of water selling up to eternal life,” reminds us of who we are and where we will one day reside forever. There will always be a great void in our lives if we neglect prayer, the very cornerstone of our relationship with God. We will always thirst.
“Come to Me, all you who thirst … I will satisfy you and fill you.“ ~ John 7:37