Share this story

Father James Ruhlin

“Seven Last Words” a series, Part Five

During Lent, we turn our focus to the greatest sermon of all time, the one which Jesus gave from the pulpit of the cross. Since Jesus made seven profound statements while being crucified, his sermon is often referred to as the “Seven Last Words.”

Starting on Ash Wednesday, Gulf Coast Catholic  will publish a seven-part series focused on each of the last seven messages of Jesus from the cross. The series is written by Father James Ruhlin, Pastor of Saint Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Hudson Fl.

Hopefully this reflection will inspire you to contemplate the depths of the Lord’s message of love from the cross. 

March 22, 2023 | The fifth word of our Lord from the cross is the shortest of the seven: “I thirst.” This word is a revelation of the sufferings of God without man.

Jesus asks man for a drink; not a drink of earthly water, but rather a drink of our love. In the crucified Christ, we see that love has exhausted itself for there is nothing more that Jesus could do for us than he has already done. Having poured forth all the waters of his everlasting love on our parched hearts, it is no wonder that Jesus thirsts for our love. Since love is reciprocal, Jesus has a right to receive our love. Why do we not respond? Why do we let the Sacred Heart of Jesus die of thirst for our hearts?

Like Christ, the Church has an insatiable thirst for the souls of men. It’s hard for today’s society to understand the thirst which Jesus is talking about because the world is drunk on indifference. The world loves the indifferent, the mediocre, and the ordinary. The world is satisfied with the bare minimum necessary to keep things afloat.

There was probably no moment during the three hours which Christ suffered on the cross in which he was tormented more than in this instance. Pains of the body are nothing compared to the agonies of the soul. It is difficult for us to grasp the intensity of this suffering, simple because none of us ever loves enough. We don't have the capacity for love that Jesus has. Therefore, we can never miss so much when it is denied. Since no one can love as much as Jesus; no one can suffer as much as he did. Thus, in the fifth word of our Lord we discover a valuable lesson: the necessity of loving our neighbor as Christ loves us. To be worthy of the name Christian, we must thirst for the spread of Divine Love. Archbishop Fulton Sheen once wrote, “A Catholic who does not strive to spread his Faith is a parasite on the life of the Church…he who is not a conquering spirit is a renegade.” If we love Jesus, then we will love to talk about his holy cause: the salvation of souls.

Everyone wants to be happy, but we cannot be happy without God. In order to satisfy the Lord’s thirst, we must enter more fully into his love. Jesus wants us to cultivate a spiritual hunger and thirst for God. Only in Christ, who is truly present in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, can we satisfy this spiritual hunger. The Eucharist is the Bread of Life; it is the food of our earthly journey, which prepares us for the Kingdom of Heaven. God thirsts for us, not because He needs us for His happiness, but because we need Him for our happiness.

The fifth word of Christ from the cross reminds us that the soul is on a quest of God and God is on the quest of the soul inviting everyone to His banquet of love; however, since love is free, God’s invitation is often rejected. Jesus gives us the means to enter into the Mystery of Love (the very Mystery of God) by partaking of the Eucharist. May we always hunger for the fullness of God’s love.

God bless,

Fr. Ruhlin

Fr. RuhlinFather James Ruhlin is the Pastor of Saint Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Hudson Fl.