Blessed are they that hunger and thisrt for righteousness…

It is difficult for many of us in our Christian cultures/traditions, who experienced a saving encounter with Jesus, and a deep assurance of God’s forgiveness of our sins, to really appreciate the complexities of the Sermon on the Mount. We tend to focus on the “blessed” (the subject of the sentence) and the promise (result clause; for theirs is…), but not the predicates (poor in spirit, mourn, meek, etc.). This is because we westerners, who like things clear cut and rational, do not like tension and paradox. Jesus saved me from my sins! Why should I have to worry about them anymore? I am righteous in God’s eyes, covered with the righteousness of Christ! Why should I have to trouble myself with spiritual striving? Doesn’t this smack of works righteousness? We fall back on religious slogans, and tend to be lazy with regard to what the Bible really says about us. Let us be truthful about ourselves. We tend to be complacent and presumptuous on God’s grace and goodness.

Now we look at those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Good heavens! How can many of us in our affluent culture even know what it means to be really hungry? We might know something about thirst, but probably not in a life threatening way. Those who are poor in spirit, mourn their lack of righteousness, and have become meek in light of these realities, become really hungry and thirsty. How can we be hungry and thirsty when we are so full of ourselves, and are basically content with our spiritual state? We read this beatitude, and perhaps are moved by the beauty of the words, but leave feeling like we are missing something. This is because true spiritual hunger and thirst is alien to us.

How do we get there? Well, it is clear from the position of this beatitude in relation to the previous ones. We have to see our spiritual poverty, we have to mourn, and we have to be meekened. What could be a better beatitude for this Lenten season? Why not really fast? Why not get to a point where we are really hungry? Then ask ourselves, “What am I really hungry for?” Just a suggestion … but a very old suggestion; a biblical one! 🙂

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