A Good Friday Reflection: I Thirst
we thirst for him, the Paschal Lamb. It is in the Eucharist that we drink deeply from the well of Mercy which springs up into eternal life. The Eucharist is therefore the living water, it is the gift of God.
Jesus says to each and every one of us: "If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ´Give me a drink,´ you would have asked and he would have given you living water." The Samaritan Woman at the well is astonished and wonders—as do many to this very day—where this "living water" is to be obtained, asking, "Where then, can you get this living water?" Jesus leads her further into the mystery of himself: "Whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (Jn 4:10-14).
Just a short while later—though many of his own disciples find his words preposterous—our Lord reveals the deeper truth about this "living water." The water which wells up into eternal life is his own flesh and blood: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him" (Jn 6:54-56).
Let us not stand among those former disciples who quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (Jn 6:52). Let us, rather, come before the Cross this Good Friday and, along with our Blessed Mother, trust in what God has said he will do. Let us kneel at the Place of the Skull and thirst for He who first thirsted for us. Let us this Triduum, as the Samaritan Woman, say, "Sir, give me this water . . . ." (Jn 4:15).
The Venerable Pope John Paul II, in speaking to his general audience in April 2001, observed that the "sacred Triduum is the ´mystery of love without limit,´ that is, the mystery of Jesus who ´having loved his own who were in the world . . . loved them to the end´" (Jn 13:1).
It is Christ who thirstily loved us to the end—all of us. That is the message of Good Friday. It is Christ whose thirst to accomplish his Father´s plan reached such immense proportions that he willingly endured the death of a common criminal on a Roman Cross. This type of thirst is radical indeed. It is most certainly beyond human. Stand below the Cross and see how God has thirsted for you; how he has selflessly and lovingly given himself in the Eucharist. Justice demands that you and I too thirst to give of ourselves to Christ, our Savior and our God.
"The Eucharist is an eloquent sign of this total, free and gratuitous love, and offers each person the joy of the presence of the One who enables us too to love ´to the end´ in imitation of him. The love that Jesus proposes to his disciples is demanding"—Pope John Paul II
The Cross challenges us, it troubles our consciences, it reveals in the light of reality our failings and sin. It demands change and repentance; it demands a new life of unity with Christ and his people. It demands love. Yet the Cross, too, brings us to a new beginning; one where, in sublime wonder, we see that God offers us salvation through his Son that we may forever live with the Holy Trinity. In view of our Lord´s selfless act on the Cross, we might boldly claim that our own death has been put to death by Love.
When standing before the Cross this Good Friday, let us not forget Christ thirsted to give of himself in the Eucharist. Let us remember that this Love who pours out his blood for us does so to transform us into something beyond ourselves. We are called to a new life. We are called to pick up our cross. But let us also meet Christ, there, on the Cross, in a new beginning. Let us live the Catholic life always and everywhere. Let us thirst for what we know.
"He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows"—St. Gregory of Nyssa
F. K. Bartels believes his Catholic Faith is a treasure beyond words. He is managing editor of catholicpathways.com, and a contributing writer for Catholic Online.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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