Give Drink to the Thirsty
“Giving drink to the thirsty.” This act of mercy had a special resonance in Mother Teresa’s life. Jesus’s words from the Cross, “I thirst” (Jn 19:28), succinctly summed up her call to quench the infinite thirst of Jesus on the Cross for love and souls. Encounter with the thirsty was then a reminder of that call and an always fresh invitation to respond first to the immediate need of the poor person in front of her, but also in a mystical way to satiate the thirst of Jesus, who was through this person-in the “distressing disguise of the poor”-asking her to “give me to drink”(Jn 4:7).
Always attentive to the needs of the poor, especially their basic physical needs, Mother Teresa took practical and necessary steps to help them. Supplying drinking water with the help of civic authorities of charitable associations wherever there was a shortage was one of her many efforts among the poor.
Yet she did not remain focused only there. She took the experience of thirst a step further, realizing that many people were thirsting ‘for kindness, for compassion, for delicate love.” She endeavored to offer some tangible expression of kindness, compassion, and love to meet this basis human need and encourage her followers to do the same.
Whatever the concrete reason that someone experiences either real physical thirst (a lack of water, the scarcity of means to reach it, an inability to take it, or the destitution of those dying on the streets) or human thirst for love, giving drink to the thirsty, as a work of mercy, definitely demands our attention. Following Mother Teresa’s example, we are challenged to recognize the thirsty around us, and to do all in our power to satiate their thirst, endeavoring like her to give drink to those who thirst for water but “not only for water, but knowledge, peace, truth, justice, and love.”
Mother Teresa said, “When Jesus was dying on the Cross, He cried, “I thirst.” We are to quench the thirst of Jesus for souls, for love, for kindness, for compassion, for delicate love. By each action done to the sick and dying, I quench the thirst of Jesus for love of that person-by my giving God’s love in me to that particular person, by caring for the unwanted, the unloved, the lonely, and … all the poor people. This is how I quench the thirst of Jesus for others by giving His love in action to them.”
“When He was dying on the Cross, Jesus said, “I thirst.” Jesus is thirsting for our love, and this is the test of everyone, poor and rich alike. We all thirst for the love of others-that they go out of their way to avoid harming us and do good to us. This in the meaning of true love-to give until it hurts.”
“A Call to Mercy” is available in hardback, paperback, and Kindle form through Amazon.