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I thirst for you, oh soul! O please, never go out of Me, but enter into Me and breathe your last in Me!’

Fifth word: "I'm thirsty" (first part)

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After this, when Jesus realized that everything was now completed, he said (in order to fulfill the Scripture), “I’m thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was standing there, so they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. (John 19:28-29)

In John's Gospel style there are two levels of interpretation that are not mutually exclusive, but ask us to make an effort to understand, not limiting ourselves to the pure literal sense. This is certainly the case with this fifth "word". In fact, the Evangelist John, to the request which seems to express a simple and natural physical need, adds the following annotation: "When Jesus realized that everything was now completed, he said (in order to fulfill the Scripture), “I’m thirsty ". The fact that being thirsty has to do with the fulfillment of Scripture is a clear invitation to seek another meaning beyond the literal one.

Let us immediately consider the figurative meaning of the word "desire" and the "theological" context in which the whole history of the Passion is read. It is a very important "thirst". In fact, it brings us back to the very reason why Jesus chose to suffer the passion. Thirst is the typical image of desire, and it should be added that in desire itself, there is a part of suffering as an expression of a lack that is waiting to be satisfied.

Not only in the "Hours of the Passion", but also in Luisa’s Diary, there are some passages in which there is Jesus’ expression: "I am thirsty".

The first passage is from July 4, 1910, in which Jesus, speaking of the "two agonies" that He experienced in the Garden of Olives and on the Cross, applies them at the moment of every man's death. In fact He underlines the fact that man appreciates after death what he did not appreciate in life.

In a special way Jesus wanted to suffer the agony in the Garden, in order to help all of the dying to die well. He felt the death of all and of each one, as if He were really dying for each one in particular; so He felt the tediums, the sadnesses, the anguishes of each one within Him, and with His own He offered help, comfort and hope to all, so that, as He felt their deaths in Him, they all might receive the grace to die in Him, as though in one single breath - with His breath, and to be beatified immediately by His Divinity.

If the agony in the Garden was in a special way for the dying, the agony on the Cross was for help at the last moment, at the very last breath. They are both agonies, but one is different from the other: the agony in the Garden, full of sadnesses, of fears, of anxieties, of frights; the agony on the Cross, full of peace, of imperturbable calm. And if Jesus cried out ‘I thirst!’, it was the insatiable thirst that all might breathe their last in His last breath; and in seeing that many would go out of His last breath, out of grief He cried out ‘Sitio!’ [‘I thirst!’], and this ‘sitio’ still continues to cry out to all and to each one like a bell at the door of each heart: ‘I thirst for you, oh soul! O please, never go out of Me, but enter into Me and breathe your last in Me!’

After death things change. In life Jesus was despised; the very miracles did not produce the effects of His death; even up to the Cross there were insults. But as soon as He breathed His last, death had the power to change things: all beat their breasts, confessing Him the true Son of God; His very disciples plucked up courage, and even those who were hidden became brave and asked for His body, giving Him honorable burial. Heaven and earth, in full voice, confessed Him the Son of God

Death is something great, something sublime; and this happens also for God’s children: in life they are despised, oppressed; those very virtues which, like light, should make those who are around them start, remain half-veiled; their heroisms in suffering, their abnegations, their zeal for souls, cast lights and doubts in those who surround them; and God Himself permits these veils, so as to preserve with more safety the virtue of His dear children. But as soon as they die, He withdraws these veils since they are no longer necessary, and the doubts become certainties, the light becomes clear, and this light makes others appreciate their heroism - they pay esteem to everything, even to the smallest things. Therefore, what cannot be done in life, is made up for by death. This, as for what happens down here. That which happens up there, then, is truly surprising and enviable to all mortals.

Another great mystic, Juliana of Norwich, speaking of Jesus' last words on the cross wrote: "It is in these five words that God wants us to be enclosed in quiet and peace. Only in this way will the thirst felt by Christ end. In fact, this is Christ's spiritual thirst, His longing for love that lasts and will last until we see Him on the day of judgment.” The effect is to feel reassured, closed in the embrace that gives us peace and quiet.

by don Marco


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