Today, during my sophomore classes, we prayed the Stations of the Cross. Though I’ve prayed them many times before, God seems to repeatedly sow new meaning into the lines. Phrases I hadn’t before realized, come to life in a startling way.
The thirst of Christ struck me in prayer today.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me, far from my prayer, far from the words of my cry? O my God, I cry out by day, and you answer not; I cry out by night, and there is no relief for me. All my bones are racked. My heart has become like wax melting away within my chest. My throat is dried up like baked clay, my tongue cleaves to my jaws; they have pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones.” (Ps. 21/22, The Way of the Cross)
I’ve grown up hearing about Bl. Mother Teresa saying that Christ was thirsting for our souls while on the cross. And that took on a new depth today and will be something I will return to throughout this Holy Week.
For a few brief seconds, I was able to imagine the intense thirst of Christ. I considered a couple moments in my life where I have felt extremely thirsty, when my tongue seems to stick to my mouth. The instances have been few and far between. I had always passed over these words with little thought, but today I was unable to. I could imagine Christ’s dry mouth and His tongue sticking to His jaws, as He tried to peel it away to speak a few words. He longed for a little water.
This thirst Christ had was one aspect of His intense suffering. He also had the scourging on His back, His hands and feet were pierced, His head was seeping blood as the thorns bit into His scalp, and He was repeatedly pushing Himself up to take in some air. His thirst was one part of the physical agony. But it struck me. For a few seconds, I imagined, to a degree, that thirst and my heart seemed unready to take in the rest of the Passion while surrounded by a bunch of teenagers.
A new depth of thirst was realized. If I now have a greater understanding of His physical thirst, how much deeper was His thirst for souls. Even more than for a cup of cool water, Christ was longing for our souls. The intensity of such a thirst pains my heart. Here Christ so deeply desires my heart and I am slow to give Him it in its entirety. May a new thirst fill my own heart for the Lord. May the intense thirsting of Christ on the cross be my new attitude toward Christ Himself.
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? (Ps. 42)