Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied

Hunger and thirst are needs we cannot stop ourselves from feeling, and the only way to get rid of them is to do something about it. By speaking of the hunger and thirst for righteousness, Jesus is once again setting a high standard indeed.

Righteousness is not a word we usually use, and different translations of the Bible use different words to render the original Greek word. This is not the place for erudite discussions on Greek words, but I think we can safely understand this word by taking it to mean living in the world as God wants it to be as our creator. It has to do with God’s place in the world as well as with the way we are called to live our relationships to each other and to the rest of creation.

The world as God wants it

Jesus said very clearly that loving God with all our being, and loving one’s neighbour as ourselves is the most important commandment of all. He has also forewarned us that He will judge us on how we treat our neighbour in need. This righteousness is possible only if we also respect the creation God has entrusted to us, and not use it for our selfish purposes.

This beatitude challenges us to ask ourselves whether we really hunger and thirst for this righteousness, whether we really crave a world closer to what God wants of it. To what extent do I passionately care that the world looks so distant from what God wishes it to be? Not only the big world, but also the world of my life, my own family, my workplace, my parish, my country.

We will be satisfied

When we hunger and thirst for righteousness we will be satisfied. We discover that we are not alone in this quest for a better world, we feel part of that innumerable multitude of (mostly silent) men and women who are doing their best to build a better world.

We will also discover that God himself is on our side, and if God is with us, who can be against us? We experience something similar to the freedom of Mother Theresa who once said, ‘Very often we can only contribute a small drop in an ocean of need, but the ocean itself is made up of small drops’.

Then, trying to build a world as God wants it becomes for us above all not a source of frustration but a true blessing.

Today, in addition to this reflection, we bring you a quirky classic composition by Claudio Monteverdi – Beatus Vir (Blessed is the man) c.1630, based on Psalm 111(112).  Below the music video you will find the lyrics accompanied by an English translation.

Beatus vir, qui timet Dominum, in mandatis ejus volet nimis.
Praise the Lord. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands.
Potens in terra erit semen ejus, generatio rectorum benedicetur.
His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Gloria et divitiae in domo ejus, et iustitia ejus manet in saeculum saeculi.
Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.
Exortum est in tenebris lumen rectis, misericors et miserator et iustus.
Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.
Iucundus homo, qui miseretur et commodat, disponet res suas in judicio,
Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice.
quia in aeternum non commovebitur. In memoria aeterna erit iustus,
Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever.
ab auditione mala non timebit. Paratum cor ejus, sperare in Domino,
He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
non commovebitur, donec despiciat inimicos suos.
His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.
Dispersit dedit pauperibus; justitia ejus manet in saeculum saeculi, cornu ejus exaltabitur in gloria. He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor.
Peccator videbit et irascetur, dentibus suis fremet et tabescet. Desiderium peccatorum peribit.
The wicked man will see and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.