27th January

Today it is worth considering Pope Francis’ commentary on last Sunday’sjesus gospel which relates the beginning of Jesus’ preaching immediately after the arrest of St. John the Baptist.

“Jesus’ announcement is similar to that of John, with the significant difference that Jesus does not indicate that another is to come: Jesus Himself is the fulfilment of the promise; He is the ‘good news’ to believe in, to receive and to communicate to men and women of all time, so that they too entrust their existence to Him. Jesus Christ Himself is the living Word and He is active in history: he who listens to and follows Him will enter the Kingdom of God”.

“Jesus is the fulfilment of the divine promise because it is He who gives mankind the Holy Spirit, the ‘living water’ that quenches the thirst of our restless heart for life, love, freedom, peace: our thirst for God”, explained Francis. Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman, ‘Give me to drink’, were the theme of this year’s annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which concludes this afternoon with the second Vespers in the Roman Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls “to pray fervently to the Lord, so that He might strengthen our commitment to the full unity of all Christians”. He added, “it is an ugly thing, that Christians are divided. But Jesus wants us to be united: one body. Our sins and our history have divided us and we must therefore pray for the Spirit to unite us once more”.

“God, who made Himself man, had our thirst, not only for water, but above all the thirst for a full life, free from the slavery of evil and death. At the same time, with His incarnation God placed His thirst, because God also thirsts, in the heart of a man: Jesus of Nazareth. God thirsts for us, our hearts, our love, and placed this thirst in Jesus’ heart. Therefore, in the heart of Christ, human and divine thirst meets. And the desire for the unity of his disciples belongs to this thirst”.

“May Jesus’ thirst increasingly become our own”, he concluded. “Let us therefore continue to pray and strive for the full unity of the Disciples of Christ, in the certainty that He Himself is at our side and sustains us with the strength of His Spirit so that this goal can be reached”.