Posted by: Catholic of Thule | March 8, 2011

Ash Wednesday

After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said… ‘I thirst’.

(John 19:28)


Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water…. whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’

(John 4:10,14)


When God asks us  for ‘a drink of water’, we are too rarely inclined to view it as a gift. We do not view it as a gift because we do not realise fully Who He is Who asks us for it and what a gift He offers in Himself in every personal encounter. We do not fully realise how infinitely adorable, loveable, beautiful and glorious He is- which in and of itself should inspire a desire to love Him quite apart from the debt we owe Him. We also do not fully realise the splendour and depth of His gift of  Himself to us in love in Christ’s sacrificial act of redemption -the source of living water. And we do not realise the depth of love He displays in the very bestowing on us of the honour of involving us intimiately in His love through offering us the possibility of co-operating with His grace at every given moment, so that any gift we may offer Him is not only utterly dependent on His gift of grace to begin with, but at every step of the way truly a gift from Him to us. Most often we would simply prefer not to have to make this or that sacrifice. We are naturally inclined to shy away from suffering in any form. We are naturally inclined towards immediate comfort, even at the cost of ultimate discomfort. We are inclined towards immediate gratification even at the expense of deep and eternal satisfaction.

Lent is  a time for renewing our appreciation of what an incredibly great gift it is that God not only chooses to make available to us the graces to enable us to perform supernaturally pleasing acts of love (impossible apart from His grace),  but that he also chooses to thirst for these acts of love – for souls to draw close to Him and to thirst to spend eternity in perfect bliss with Him.

God, who has no need of his creatures, created us out of sheer generous love, redeemed us out of sheer generous love and seeks to make us new creatures in Christ, to have us accept and apply His redemption to our individual souls, out of sheer generous love. He gave us the dignity to be able to co-operate with His grace – the ability to perform supernaturally pleasing acts of love – out of sheer generous love.

Several times in the gospels the incredible happens – God asks for the co-operation of mere creatures in performing His miracles and in the very act of salvation itself. He freely chooses to ‘depend on’ creatures, not from any need, but from sheer generous love.  And every day of our lives He offers us the amazing opportunity of co-operating in the application of His saving act in our own lives and in the lives of others. When He asks us to offer Him gifts of love, it is He Himself Who offers us His gift of perfect love – He offers us to ability and opportunity to choose life rather than death and to help others do so.

Lent is a time for renewing our appreciation of this gift and for renewing our commitment to accepting it. It is a time for imploring His grace in order to do so; a time for training our spiritual muscles in order to co-operate with this grace in the voluntary acts of penance and in a renewed fervour in uniting to His great sacrifice of love also those sufferings that come our way without asking our permission. It is a time for cleaning up our spiritual  act, for realising the ugliness and the consequences of our sins, for realising the debt of gratitude for the forgiveness and opportunity for repentance offered to us, and for renewing our commitment to choosing life by drawing ever closer to Him who has life in Himself.

If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink’….

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