A reflection upon words of thirst from the cross …
After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full 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.
When we baptise someone – in fact whenever we renew our baptismal vows – we give thanks to God for the gift of water.
This is not a bad idea, because without water, we die.
More than half our bodies are water; without water, we are nothing; water is the essence of our life.
More than two thirds of our earth is covered by water: the water of our seas and oceans, rivers and lakes, creeks and streams, and rain and storms.
The Holy Spirit breathed over it in the process of creation and gave it life.
God has given us water as part of the story of our faith, leading the people of Israel through it out of slavery to safety, leading them through it into the land of promise, hope and freedom.
In water of baptism, Jesus allowed his cousin, John, to baptise him, and was recognised as God’s chosen one, the Messiah, Christ, to lead us to safety, freedom, hope and everlasting life with God.
As Jesus instructed us to do, we bring into his body those who approach in faith to be baptised in the name of God who is creator and parent, saviour and son, and Holy Spirit and inspiration.
The water of baptism shows that we can be made clean inside, clean in our hearts.
But in the water of baptism we also share the death of Christ.
It’s the water of our tears, the water of our pain and our brokenness.
Through it we are reborn in the Spirit into a life lived in God our creator.
Without water we will die.
To thirst is part of being human – in everyday life as well as in extremis (this cry of Christ on the Cross). We are all aware of the our body’s need for water in order to sustain life. Water is life giving; a lack of water induces thirst.
It is possible to speak of spiritual thirst in the same way. In other words, it is part of being human in the sense that it responds to a basic need – something that we must satisfy in order to live complete and satisfactory lives.
Something to ponder: we use bottled water even when our supply is clean and healthy; perhaps we should think carefully about what it would mean to have bottled spirituality when God has given us a clean, healthy endowment of spiritual love.
Do we pass on God’s love freely or do we try to exact a price for it, to try to claim ownership of it?
The anguished cry of Christ on the Cross reminds us of what it is to be human.
We are thirsty creatures. We need water to live.
Yet to be fully human is to be offered an encounter with the sacred, the spiritual.
We need the spiritual water that Christ offers to be fully alive.