"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied"
The word "righteousness" doesn't mean (at least not here) the gift of being at peace with God after we have repented and asked Jesus to come into our hearts. Like all the beatitudes, Jesus is echoing the language of the Old Testament, especially the Psalms and Isaiah. A better translation would be "justice", although not the "make my day, punk" Dirty Harry sort of justice. God's justice is about doing things to restore victims and their offenders back to full life in the community and creation, When this sort of justice happens, God's purposes are restored, and in this sense we are brought into a right relationship with God.
And who are the hungry and the thirsty? Is it a metaphor for those wanting to see justice in the world, or does Jesus mean those who really are deprived of life's necessities, who cry out to him for a justice that will restore them to life in the community? As with the first beatitude about the poor, Luke simply says "blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled" (Luke 6.21). This leads to the idea that Matthew has (again) 'spiritualized' Jesus' words. As with my take on "the poor in Spirit" [see January's post] I suspect Jesus meant those who really have missed out on life's necessities (food and water) and who look to the LORD for a justice that restores them back to fullness of life. This extended extract from Psalm 107 gives you the idea:
4 Some wandered in the wilderness,
lost and homeless.
5 Hungry and thirsty,
they nearly died.
6 “Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,
and he rescued them from their distress.
7 He led them straight to safety,
to a city where they could live.
8 Let them praise the Lord for his great love
and for the wonderful things he has done for them.
9 For he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.
The late Glen Stassen suggests that the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16) is also a good example of someone hungering and thirsting for righteousness/justice.
Well, although I often cry out for food and drink it's never because I'm in any danger of death, and has nothing to do with my sense of being excluded from the "good things" God has purposed for me. Nonetheless, I can be part of God's restoring justice.
Right now (Covid lockdown) many Kiwis are helping provide food and other basics for people who have lost their jobs. That's restorative justice. My challenge this month is to do something practical for someone struggling with the necessities of life. The aim to to participate in God's great project of restorative justice.
9 Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him,
that his glory may dwell in our land.
10 Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
and righteousness will look down from the sky.
12 The Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness will go before him,
and will make a path for his steps. (Psalm 85)
If you feel inspired, give it a go too. Will report back in a month's time.