Jesus, realizing that everything was now finished, said to fulfill the Scripture, “I thirst.” John 19:28
esus continues to pray the 22nd Psalm from the Cross. Everything is completed. Everything of his earthly ministry is completed, and he is preparing to give up his life. St. John the Evangelist makes sure we know this was no random event. This was no senseless execution. Good Friday, the day that Jesus died, was the pinnacle of his earthly ministry. This is what he came for. This is what the scriptures pointed to, if one but knew where to look and how to read them.
And Jesus is showing his Church from the Cross where to look and how to read. The people of Israel knew to look for the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ. And the Psalms point to him: Jesus is the Son of David, upon whose throne God has set him forever and whose kingdom will not end. But today, he is the “scorn of Men, cast away by the people.” The toast of the town on Sunday, he is cast away on Friday.
They are wagging their heads, in the Psalm Jesus is reciting, and there in front of him. They say in the Psalm and in the Gospel story, “He hoped in the Lord; let Him rescue him.” Prophetic words from the Psalms, the Jewish book of prayer, spoken today by those who have cast him away. Like the Psalmist, his tongue clings to his jaws, and he says, “I thirst” to those who have pierced his hands and his feet.
This is the Cup of Consummation in the New Passover. Jesus takes a bit of sour wine from the hyssop branch held up to his mouth. The Old Covenant is finished, it is completed, it is perfected. The New Covenant is established, and the 600 Laws of Moses are replaced by a Law of Love written on our hearts by Love Itself.
Jesus still thirsts. He thirsts for us, for our souls, for our salvation. He offers salvation, and it is up to us to accept it. He shows us from the Cross that suffering can have a great purpose and great power. The Jewish religious authorities believe they have won, but they have lost. The Devil thinks he has won, but he has lost if we turn toward Christ and unite our suffering with his on the Cross. That is our sacrifice. That is our participation in His sacrifice.
Many are suffering today. We are suffering without access to the sacraments. Many are suffering with the virus, and many more are suffering because of how we responded to the virus. This suffering does not have to be pointless. This execution was not pointless because it glorified God and brought the triumph of Life over Death. Our current suffering is not pointless if we offer it to God at the foot of the Cross. For he thirsts for us. His palate is drier than a piece of clay from a pot, and his tongue is stuck to his jaw. For he thirsts for us.