On the wall of every chapel of the Missionaries of Charities
throughout the world is a Crucifix. Next to that Crucifix there are painted two
words: I THIRST. The words are spoken by Jesus in the last throes of agony as
recorded by the gospel writer John. Mother Teresa (now Blessed Teresa), founder
of the Missionaries of Charity, took those words in the gospel to heart. She
believed that those words were more than just the agonizing cry of a crucified
man, but rather the yearning cry of a God so in love with us that even in his
passion this infinite thirst for souls could never be quenched. But quench it
Mother Teresa tried. She founded the Missionaries of Charity to work with the
poorest of the poor, not necessarily those just financially challenged but
rather all of us who somehow think our God is "too holy," "too good," "too big"
to be interested in us and love us so passionately. The words, painted on every
chapel wall of the Missionaries of Charity are a clear sign, a clarion call if
you will, to the purpose of each sister’s and brother’s vocation.
This emphasis on Jesus’ compelling thirst is not something
new. Its origins go back to Biblical times. In the same gospel of John, Jesus
tells the Samaritan woman at the well that, "Everyone who drinks of this water
will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them
will never be thirsty." (Jn 4:13) St. Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, describes from
her own mystical experience of a God "crazed with love, drunk with love."
This quenching of the thirst of Jesus is not in itself an
end, however. It is rather a means to an end. By satisfying Jesus’ thirst by
our gift of self to Him, a transformation can take place. The more we give
ourselves to God, the more God gives Himself to us. And the more we become like
There is a power in that transforming love. Blessed Teresa
of Calcutta knew it; St. Catherine of Siena knew
it; our Founder, St. Paul
of the Cross knew it. In writing to one of his spiritual daughters Paul of the
Cross states: "…relieve your thirst from the chalice of Jesus. But the more you
drink, the more you will thirst." One’s thirst for God and God’s kingdom, once
experienced, is never satisfied.
As we continue these weeks of Easter celebration, let us try
to quench the thirst of the Risen Jesus. Let us act as people who have truly
been redeemed, as souls yearning to share the good news of a God who loves us
Patrick Quinn is the
director of planned giving at the Passionist Development Office in Chicago.