The Thirst of Jesus on the Cross
Source: THE SCHOOL
OF JESUS CRUCIFIED, Fr. Ignatius of the Side of Jesus,
TAN BOOKS, with Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1895
1. THE last moments of our dying Redeemer
are at hand. His throat being parched, and His
whole Body consumed with inward fever owing
to the immense quantity of blood He has lost, and the innumerable
and sufferings He has endured, He exclaims in a mournful voice, "I
Long has He suffered this thirst, and patiently has he forborne to utter a word of complaint but yet, when now at length He reveals it, even in the tone of a suppliant imploring relief, there is not found one man who will give Him a drop of water to refresh His burning lips! The God Who created the rivers, and supplied the sea with fountains of water; the God Who miraculously assuaged the thirst of a million of Jews in the desert---that God is without even a drop of water to moisten His parched lips! Thus does our Divine Saviour expiate in His Own Person our gluttony and excessive delicacy! Thus does He endure the penalty of the sins we commit by our intemperance in eating and drinking. A soldier now raised to the mouth of Our Lord a sponge soaked in vinegar. Can you point out any culprit treated with such refinement of cruelty as this exercised upon the innocent Son of God in the midst of His most excruciating sufferings? My soul, compassionate thy sweet Jesus. He says, "I thirst," and yet they do not even give Him a drop of water to moisten his lips! But little does God require of you to satisfy His Divine Heart, and yet you refuse Him even that little! At what time does Jesus say, "I thirst"? When about to die, when plunged in an abyss of suffering, when about to consummate His great sacrifice for our redemption! At what time do you refuse God the little He asks of you? At the very moment when He is most liberally loading you with benefits of every description! Oh, how great is your ingratitude. From whence does Jesus say, "I thirst?" From the Cross, on which He has been languishing for three long hours. The very place from which He speaks ought to be sufficient to move you to compassion. At the sight of a God hanging for your sake upon a Cross, and imploring you to correct some fault, break off some improper friendship, or fly from some occasion of sin, can you turn away, can you refuse Him that consolation? Ah, reflect at least before uttering a refusal which will be a source of so much suffering to Him!
2. Besides this corporal thirst, Jesus suffers from another spiritual species of thirst, which cannot be so easily assuaged.
Jesus thirsts for our eternal salvation. He thirsts for souls. This is the thirst of which he complains, and which is consuming His very life's Blood. Jesus most passionately desires that the Blood He has shed should benefit mankind by saving them from Hell; and yet He foreknows that there will be many eternally lost, notwithstanding all his love and all His sufferings. Oh, truly does this thirst consume the loving Heart of Jesus, and its sacred heat slowly but surely deprives Him of life.
My soul, reflect now what things thy desires tend to, and what thou dost thirst after. No doubt thou thirstest after worldly goods, after honors, pleasures, comforts, and amusements, but thou thirstest not after thy salvation; thou art not desirous of gaining Heaven, of entering into the possession of that eternal, undying bliss which Jesus has purchased for thee at so dear a rate. Jesus Crucified thirsts in an especial manner after thy salvation and progress in Divine love. If thou hadst been present on Mount Calvary, and hadst heard our Redeemer saying, "I thirst," wouldst thou not have relieved His sufferings by giving Him a little water? Know that even at the present moment it is in thy power to relieve His burning thirst. He says to thee from the Cross, I "My son, I thirst for thy soul." Art thou desirous of affording thy Redeemer some solace in His sufferings from thirst? Offer Him thy thoughts by frequent consideration on His goodness and sufferings. Give Him thy heart with all its affections by constant protestations that thou lovest Him above all things, and will ever love Him in preference to all created objects. Give Him thy soul with all its powers, and often renew thy resolution to work out thy eternal salvation, however much it may cost thee, and hope that thy efforts may be crowned with success, through the merits of His Passion. Thus mayest thou relieve Jesus in His thirst.
3. Consider a third species of thirst endured by Jesus.
The thirst to suffer yet more for the glory of His beloved Father, and the salvation of souls. Jesus has drunk the bitter chalice of His Passion, even to the dregs, and yet He thirsts to suffer even more for love of us. Be filled with admiration at the ardent charity of Jesus, which causes His sacred Heart to be consumed by such a thirst of love, and thank Him for His great goodness in suffering so much for your sake, and desiring to suffer yet more. There can be no doubt that Jesus would have prolonged His bitter sufferings, had not the Will of His Father disposed otherwise, so great was the love He bore your souls. Are you filled with a thirst of labor and suffering for the love of Jesus? Do you thirst with a desire to struggle and fight manfully to save your soul? Perhaps your thirst is the thirst of the world, the flesh and earthly goods, a thirst which overwhelms the Heart of Jesus with bitterness. Jesus loves His Eternal Father with an infinite love, and rejoices that, for His greater glory, His body is slowly consumed with suffering, and that His spirit continues to drink the bitter chalice of fresh afflictions. He rejoices that His sacrifice is prolonged through every species of ignominy, in order to honor His Father, and that His life is slowly departing amidst agony and suffering, that so His obedience to the Divine Will may be yet further exercised, and His beloved Father more and more glorified. Now cast a glance upon yourself. Do you joyfully endure the sufferings with which life is strewn? Do you love God in the midst of your trials? Do you kiss the hand which chastises you? Do you desire to glorify God by the sacrifice of your patience? Do you thirst for God to be honored by yourself and all others? Do you thirst after the performance of good and virtuous actions, which alone can give satisfaction and joy to the Heart of Jesus? Examine yourself, and resolve to amend.
The remembrance of the thirst of Jesus on the Cross, and of the gall and vinegar given Him to drink, should serve you as an incentive to mortification of the palate, and as a lesson in sobriety and temperance. Dwell in thought upon your past life, and bitterly deplore that you have so often given Jesus gall and vinegar to drink, by your sinful deeds. Entertain a most earnest and persevering desire to save your soul, and thirst eagerly after that eternal Fountain of life which is prepared for you in Heaven.
ExampleThe faithful followers of Jesus Crucified willingly deprived themselves, for His love, of even the most innocent gratifications that creatures can afford them. One day in the height of summer Saint Paul of the Cross was returning with a fellow-religious from a mission which he had been giving, and, owing to the extreme heat of the weather, he was suffering greatly from thirst, when suddenly they came to a clear fountain of water, which seemed to invite them to drink. The servant of God turned to his companion, and said to him, smiling, "Shall we now perform an act of mortification by abstaining from this water? For the love of Jesus enduring such burning thirst on the Cross, let us make a sacrifice of this gratification of our palate." His fervent companion immediately assented to the proposal, which was forthwith acted upon. This act of mortification was so pleasing in the sight of our Divine Lord, that He speedily rewarded His servant by abundant spiritual favors.