What do you thirst for?
Water? Soda? Wine? Beer? Fruit juice? Companionship? Love? Friendship? Justice?
In one our Gospel readings this month, Jesus asks the Samaritan woman at the well for a drink of water. Her response is incredulous: “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” We can almost hear the shock in her voice. Jesus’ question should still hold shock value for us today. Just imagine yourself as the Samaritan woman. You might say: “Wait a second, how can you, God, ask me for a drink of water?” Can we, sinful human beings, really quench the thirst of Christ?
We can! In fact, it is our responsibility to do so. Jesus tells us that whatever we do to “the least of these,” we do to him. By feeding the hungry, satiating the thirsty, and comforting the lonely, we feed and console Christ. What a tremendous responsibility we have in our freedom—to feed the living Christ!
Of course, we know that women and men do not live by bread alone, but by the living bread and water of Christ. Jesus’ response to the Samaritan woman is as surprising as his original request: “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” Jesus asks us for water, but we cannot give him living water unless we receive it from him first. The living water, Jesus tells us, “wells up to eternal life.” It is water that continually replenishes itself without reserve. The woman could have responded, “That’s cra-zy! There is no such thing as water that never runs out!” Instead, she faithfully responds with a desire to receive this living water of Christ.
Before dying on the cross Jesus says, “I thirst.” Christ in the world is thirsty, and we have the awesome task of quenching his thirst. Mother Teresa told her Missionaries of Charity that their primary task was to quench the thirst of Christ. We quench Christ’s thirst not just with material things, but with the living water Christ himself has provided for us—if we are open to receiving it. If we fast this Lent, may our hunger and thirst be reminders of hunger and thirst for the living bread and water that only Christ can provide.
Again, what do you thirst for?