“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” - Matthew 5:6
Hunger and thirst are only experienced in the absence of food and drink. And when there is an absence, when we are hungry and thirsty, it is difficult to want anything else. It is impossible to deny what we are: hungry and thirsty.
Strangely, the absence of righteousness is not the same. Perhaps it would be if we had not numbed ourselves into believing that it is not possible to be filled. We question whether righteousness is even possible. We joke about our lack of righteousness... even reveling in the degrees and nuance of its absence. When either a prophet or a fool (and, really, who can tell the difference) speaks of righteousness, we stone them from our minds. We debase them in our relationships. We remove them from all consideration.
I think I know why we do this. I think it is because we don’t really believe hunger for righteousness is a hunger that can be filled. We are not righteousness, that is fairly obvious to most of us (at least those of us who will even consider this devotional). Nothing in our world seems all that righteous. It is easier to believe that righteousness doesn’t exist than to hunger for food that we will never taste… thirst for drink we will never touch.
In our text, Jesus asks us to dream. Jesus asks us to rebel against our disbelief. Jesus asks us to hold onto a deeper vision of right: right relationship with each other, right relationship with ourselves, and right relationship with God. He points us to rightness that becomes being… righteousness. If you allow him to lead you in that train of thought, a faint hunger appears. The dryness of our spiritual mouths becomes apparent.
Yet, Jesus does more than ask us to dream. He speaks. He is. He asks us to believe that who he is and what he has done – on the cross, the tomb, and his Spirit fire – will fill the absence and enliven the dream. In knowing the hunger and thirst and Jesus, we will be filled with righteousness.
Jesus, we ask that you give us hunger and thirst for righteousness. We ask that you open our eyes and give us the courage to face the absence of righteousness. Then come to us… meet us in our need. Fill us that we might speak and live as… righteous. In Jesus’ name, amen.