I was thirsty and you gave me drink…” – Mt 25.35

Today’s gospel presents us with a strong image of what kingdom living looks like. The following poem by Marlene Marburg may help us deepen our reflection on Jesus’ invitation to care for those in need.

Thirst

(Reprinted with the author’s permission)

In the clinic, the derelict
was fraught with fever, enough
to make a dog salivate. I
X-rayed him, asked him to wait.

He panted, disturbed his
burdened chest, coughed
from somewhere deep,
and asked for water

With the narrow door open, he sat
on the bench in the cubicle.
He was small in the room
of toilet dimensions.
Dehydrated flesh sagged from his bones.

He fiddled with clothes, confused
about the order of things.
His watch had stopped.

My eyes are gritty, he said,
as if it was a question.
Then he dressed himself, dizzy
with checks and holes.

I washed my hands.

He waited on the verandah
for the rain or something to pass –

I did.

Could you take me to the station?

Sorry. It’s against policy.

He understood ‘policy’
referenced daily
to his exact, polite pleading.

Sorry pulled at my mind
until reshaped,
I stopped the car,
motioned him to approach

His eyes
in habitual reverence,
honoured me in a way that
shamed my fear.

He sat in the front.
I drove to the station
talking a rehearsed narrative.

But when he said bless you,
I received the cup of water,
astonished by my thirst.