Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.
Reading: Isaiah 55
Hunger and thirst are basic words. They are powerful metaphors for what move us most, what is deepest within our beings. It was no accident or coincidence that Jesus used these specific words. If our hunger increases unabated, if our thirst is not quenched, eventually we die. They’re basic words, and they highlight what is necessary to keep us alive. The same basic truth applies to the spiritual dimension. Jesus tells us that if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, then everything else will be given as well. In other words we shall be satisfied, filled, lacking no good thing.
The word righteousness really means right relationships. It is the heartbeat of what we call justice, the desire for which pervades, or should pervade the whole of creation. What we are challenged with in this beatitude is right relationships between ourselves and God, with our own inner beings, with the other and with the whole of the created order.
There is, if you like, a God shaped gap or hole inside each of us, and no matter how much we try to fill it with other things, its still there, no matter how well we perform, no matter how we busy ourselves, there’s still this yearning and aching. Isn’t it wonderful to think that there’s always more, that God is a God of lavish generosity and he delights to give gifts to humankind. If we have been faithful in using the one, he’s going to make us faithful over more. He never gifts us for ourselves alone. There’s always a treasure to share with others as we exercise the gift in thirsting for right relationships. And as we are faithful in the little, then God will lead us into bigger and deeper areas where righteousness is demanded. At the very end of Psalm 85, almost like a postscript, there is this amazing and challenging statement: “Righteousness goes as a herald before him preparing the way for his steps.” What is it that prepares the way for God to come? It is right relationships that open up the way for him, and are the prerequisite for a fresh outpouring of his Spirit. And as we seek, as we hunger and thirst, the promise is that we shall be filled.
Jesus never lost his thirst for unity, for reconciliation between God and his people and between those who were hostile to each other. Throughout John’s Gospel that thirst is always to the fore. It is his passion. Even nailed to the cross that burning desire never leaves him. His penultimate cry before he dies is, “I am thirsty.” It is a thirst that those who crucified him did not understand. But it is followed by the word of affirmation, the cry of triumph, “It is finished!” Years later St. Paul was to write with total assurance: “He (that is, Jesus) has broken down the wall of hostility that used to separate us. His purpose was to make peace – by creating in himself one new person from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death, and our hostility towards each other was put to death.” It is finished. Jesus has already done it. What we are asked to do is simply to pick up the challenge and get on with living out what has already happened.
Suggestions for Sharing:
- What is it that your spirit hungers and thirsts for?
- How can you set about restoring relationship within yourself