Born again

What I wrote below this introduction was, by far, the toughest thing I ever had to write.

Deacon Leonard Stohr of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Yigo asked seven parishioners to write and present reflections on the “Seven Last Words” of Jesus Christ. They actually are seven sentences He uttered in the three hours He hung from the Cross before dying. The deacon assigned me the Fifth Word: “I thirst.”

I didn’t want to post this because I did the worst thing possible while presenting and I ugly cried. But, maybe this will help someone who needs to know just what Jesus meant when he whispered from the Cross, “I thirst,” and why that should matter to us, especially those of us who have looked for love in all the wrong places.

Here is my script, which only is one or two words off my presentation of it during Good Friday services:


Jesus Christ’s death is approaching. His human life is being drained by us and for us. We, the sinners who deserved condemnation, are the ones watching Him on the Cross. We have been watching Him for hours now. In fact, the last time He had something to drink was at His Last Supper.

Since then, this innocent Man, who did nothing but love us despite all our failings and despite all those times we did not love Him back, has been falsely accused, spat upon, beaten, mocked, scourged, crowned with thorns, forced to carry His own Cross, nailed to it, lifted up on it, and now He thirsts.

He gave us the water of eternal life, and we gave Him nothing but poison when he said, “I thirst,” from the Cross.

And even through His unimaginable suffering, despite our sinfulness, even though we spit on Him, betray Him, deny Him, and mock Him – from that Cross and in His thirst, He gave us one more Grace. When he said “I thirst,” He told us about the one and only thing God needs from us: our love.

We often put God into a box, thinking in our own limited way that this limitless and infinite God who is outside time and space is God who needs nothing and sees all. We commonly see and feel God’s infinite love for us in our limited human understanding of His becoming one with us in all things but sin, and suffering and dying to save us.

But there God is. On a cross. Thirsty. How can this be? How can the powerful and almighty God thirst? And here, from His thirst, do we find Him unlocking another mystery as we watch Him die.

All of us… all of this… everything in Heaven, on earth, and beneath the earth is God’s creation. But the Creator could not do one thing about His creation: experience creation from within. Until His son was formed in the womb of our Holy Mother. We often see Jesus as God’s gift to humanity. I wonder if we see that this whole time – from our baptism and in every Mass we celebrate – humanity has been giving a gift to God: Jesus.

Jesus unites us to God. He is both God’s gift to us, and humanity’s gift to God. When Jesus came, God experienced His own creation. Through Jesus Christ’s eyes. Through His joy. Through His obedience. Through His pain and His suffering. And through His thirst on the Cross.

God thirsts for us. He thirsts for our love. His love for us is unrequited. Unconditional. Given freely to us no matter what we have done to offend Him. Even when we spit on His face as we gossip and curse. Even when we scourge His beaten body each time we decide we won’t give even one hour of our week to Him in His house. Even when we stab His holy head with thorns each time we hurt another person. Even when we nail His holy hands to the Cross with our pride, vanity, idolatry of money and power, and gluttony of drugs and alcohol. Even when we drive the spike through His holy feet each time we fail to help the poor, the disabled, the afflicted, and the addicted.

He still asks to drink from our cup. He gave us everything – including His only begotten son, and all He asks for is the water of our love.

It took me a very long time to come here and to understand – in the very limited way the Holy Spirit has allowed me to understand – my own thirst for Christ.

With some exceptions, every morning I have come to this church (for about a year now). Once I enter that door there, I fall to my knees at the sight of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and thank Him for this sanctuary that washes my dirty and sinful soul. His beautiful home where He has surrounded me with His earthly angels who minister to me. Who hug me. Who call me their brother and their son. Who pray the Holy Rosary with me and sing together in celebration of the Holy Mass every day.

I don’t deserve any of this. I am not worthy whatsoever to stand in His presence or to receive blessings from Father Paul and Father Vincenzo and Deacon Greg, and all my brothers and sisters of the morning Mass.

These living waters that flow through this place, I now know, are what I have been seeking in my thirst and my desire to fill the cup of my soul. Because, before this place… before my Christian journey, I spent nearly four decades of my life from baptism looking in all the wrong places, and filling myself with the elixir of poison where what I really needed were the waters of life from the fountain of His mercy.

I was a drug addict, addicted to filth, promiscuous. When I was hurt by others, I lashed out in vengeance, and I hurt them back. For decades I was that cafeteria Catholic who only attended Christmas and Easter Masses and excused myself by telling myself that God sees me and doesn’t need me. I spent most of my life living for my own advancement. My own glory. A complete and arrogant love of myself that surrendered not to my place in this beautiful and wonderful creation and humanity.

I used to feel sorry for myself when struggle came and I suffered, never seeing God’s Beautiful Hand inviting me to give His only begotten Son a drink of water.

What could God ever need from me? A sinner. A sinner who spat on His face and crucified Him with my sin and what I have done against Him each time I hurt myself and others? My love. He thirsts for my love. He thirsts for our love. Our love for Him and our love for each other.

By God’s Grace, I have been pulled from the poisonous sea and I have been born again. Now I thirst for Christ’s fountain of mercy, His living waters.

My thirst for Christ grows every day. May not one day go by when I am not in this church facing Him on His Cross and His very existence in the Blessed Sacrament. May not one hour go by when I do not see Him in the eyes of the poor, the afflicted, the hurt and the suffering, and all of you whose Crosses become so heavy upon your shoulders. May not one minute go by when I do not see you thirsty and prayerfully serve you with the cup of His love.

May, by the end of my life on this earth, the Holy Spirit drain me and all of us of myself – of ourselves – and fill us instead with the constant, unquenchable thirst for Christ our King.

We are the ones who sin. We are the ones who are supposed to be beaten. It is our iniquity that should be nailed to the cross.

Yet there he is. So full of love. So drained of human life. So thirsty for even one drop of water. Yet all we give him is gall.

So dear Jesus our Savior, as you thirst on the Cross, we make this pledge to You that where others thirst, there you are asking, thirsting for our love. May we never fail to see you in them and to quench Your thirst through theirs. Please forgive me Mother Mary. Please forgive me, Jesus. I love You, and I thirst with You. I love you all, my brothers and sisters who thirst in Christ our King.

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