Today, Good Friday, we find ourselves on Calvary, standing at the foot of the Cross. As we look up at the Crucified One, we witness his total act of self-emptying. Stretching out his arms, Jesus embraced all of creation from beginning to end, as he handed his life over to the Father. In those final moments he spoke two powerful words from the Cross, “I thirst.” What does Jesus thirst for? Jesus thirsts for our love in return for his love freely given.
Around the world in the houses of the Missionaries of Charity, founded by St. Teresa of Kolkatta, in each chapel next to the image of the Crucified One are those two words of Jesus. “I thirst.” The Sisters see them at the beginning of each day during their morning meditation and the celebration of the Eucharist. The words lie at the very heart of their ministry as they go out into the streets and return love for love freely given, as they tend to the needs of the Christ whom they recognize in the poor, the sick, the homeless, the abandoned, and the dying.
The late Father Henri Nouwen penned the following in the prayers he wrote for Holy Week 1986 in his booklet, “Heart Speaks to Heart: Three Meditations on Jesus.”
“I look at you Lord, and I see your pierced side, the place where your heart is broken. As I look, my eyes begin to recognize the anguish and agony of all the people for whom you gave yourself. Your broken heart becomes the heart of all humanity, the heart of all the world. You carry them all: abandoned children, rejected wives and husbands, broken families, the homeless, refugees, prisoners, the maimed and tortured, and thousands, yes millions, who are unloved, forgotten and left alone to die. I see their emaciated bodies, their despairing faces, their anguished looks. I see them all there, where your body is pierced and your heart is ripped apart. O compassionate Lord, your heart is broken because of all the love that is not given or received.”
Today, Good Friday, let us make time to sit still, be quiet and gaze upon the Crucified One, hearing him speak to you personally, “I thirst.” How will you respond to love freely given?
– Fr. Dennis, Good Friday April 10, 2020