As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and behold
the face of God? (Ps 42:1-2)
“I have life, says the Lord, and I do not desire the death of the sinner but, rather, that he should be converted and himself have life.” (Ezekiel 18:32) God desires the sinner to turn away from the darkness of his own nothingness and void and come to himself, to draw life from his life. Sin is grounded in an illusion concerning my own alleged greatness and worth in my own eyes. Repentance is grounded, not in a desire to abase myself, but in a clear understanding and a profound conviction of my great worth in the eyes of God. Penance springs from a knowledge that I am worth so much that I do not have the right to deprive myself of the life God wants to give me, or to deprive God himself, for that matter, of the irreplaceable love he seeks in me. An old French poem, by Francois Villon, begins with the striking line: Je meurs de soif auprès de la fontaine [I die of thirst right by the fountain’s edge]. It happens that the call to Christian conversion intends to correct precisely such an irrational situation: we must turn to the rich, abundant water under our noses that God never denies us. It is not a humiliation but a show of intelligence to admit that my own cisterns are broken, empty, and clogged with accumulated refuse and that I must go to the fontes Salvatoris—the “fountain of the Savior” that is the Heart of Jesus—in order to quench my raging thirst. The Christian’s authentic sense of self-worth consists in this conviction that I have both the right and the possibility to quench a thirst that is the expression of the noblest part of my being; and this conviction, resulting in so much trust, was brought to us by Jesus’ coming among us in the flesh. (Erasmo Leiva)