Eyes of the Heart Studio

I Thirst for You

A photorealistic pencil portrait of the St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa).

Medium: Graphite Pencils

“After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), “I thirst.” A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished”; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”

~John 19:28-30

In 1946, on the train to Darjeeling, Jesus spoke the words, “I thirst for you, for your love” to his bride, St. Teresa of Calcutta. These words were the first of Mother Teresa’s “call within a call”: the Lord’s request that she leave everything to found the Missionaries of Charity, that He might be loved in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor.

Four years earlier, Mother Teresa made Jesus a private vow to refuse Him nothing she clearly saw He wanted her to give. Her Divine Spouse took her at her word, and in His love for her and for souls, He asked her for her everything.

“I thirst” became the inspiring Scripture for the Missionaries of Charity. In every convent, these words are written beside a crucifix. They capture the thirst of Christ on the Cross for souls: a thirst for redemption, for belief, to be loved by the children that He bled for. They also capture the thirst of the poorest of the poor, a thirst embracing not only their unmet human needs, but the inner pain of being unloved and unwanted, cast to the wayside and even untouchable in the eyes of the world.

These words became the cry of Mother Teresa’s own soul. Wishing her to drink deeply of His chalice, Jesus made Mother Teresa the incarnation of His thirst: from the commencement of her newfound mission, she experienced an intense spiritual darkness. Pressing her lips firmly to that cup, Mother Teresa gave Jesus her wholehearted surrender, determined to refuse Him nothing. For the next fifty years, Christ infused into her spirit His pain of being unloved and unwanted, an experience that gave her a profound solidarity not only with Him, but also with the poor she served. Through this mystical participation in the thirst of God, Mother Teresa satiated His thirst. Her ardent love quenched His desire to be loved, and her willing suffering quenched His desire to extend salvation to the souls she was ministering to.