“At three o’clock, I saw the Lord Jesus, crucified, Who looked at me and said, ‘I thirst’. Then I saw two rays issue from His side, just as they appear in the Image. I then felt in my soul the desire to save souls and to empty myself for the sake of poor sinners.”
Those two little words – ‘I thirst’ – say so very much. What is Jesus thirsting for? Not for water – He knows the end is very near. His meaning is much deeper. He is completing His act of sacrifice upon the Cross – this sacrifice will last for all time and is offered for all people.
We need this sacrifice because we are sinners – the sacrifice of Christ redeems us and atones for our sins. When Jesus says, ‘I thirst’, He is thirsting for sinners, that His sacrifice might be embraced by them, that they might allow Him to redeem them. But He knows, too, that despite this sacrifice of His, not all souls will be saved – not all souls will accept Him; not all souls will allow themselves to be saved; not all souls will open themselves to the action of His merciful grace. Some souls will believe themselves to be beyond redemption, thinking their sins are too great; others will stubbornly persist in sin; and yet others are blinded by their pride or their wilfulness.
Saint Paul tells us that we, as Christians – and like Paul himself – can offer our own sufferings in union with those of the Crucified One, so that our sufferings take on a redemptive character and have meaning “for the sake of His body, the Church” (cf. Colossians 1:24). And in this way, we can share in that thirst of the Lord upon the Cross. That thirst is the longing and desire that all souls might come to know and love the Lord, to open themselves to the merciful grace flowing from His Heart, pierced by the Lance, from which Blood and Water flowed.
In our prayers today, let us join the Lord in His work of redemption and pray for sinners with faith and in humility – all the while, remembering that we, too, are among the souls for whom the Lord thirsts.
May all souls come to adore the mercy of God and to trust in it.
Image: Corpus at Cloisters, New York, © Most Merciful Jesus