Monday, December 8, 2008

Daily - 12/8/08

Matthew 5:6

6 Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Link - I didn't write this

Originally written March 1, 2007 – by Bishop Thomas Olmsted

"I thirst." These words of Jesus from the Cross (Jn 19:28) were favorites of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. So convinced was she of their profound meaning that she asked that they be placed beside the crucifix in all the chapels of the Missionaries of Charity (the Religious Institute she founded).

These words point to basic human experiences that we can all relate to: thirst for water, thirst for meaning, thirst for love and so forth. They also point to the depths of the love of Jesus for us, to His desire to save everyone from the loneliness and pain of hell and to bring us into the Banquet of all banquets in Heaven. No doubt Mother Teresa was also thinking of the physical hunger and thirst of the poorest of the poor, to whom she dedicated her apostolic energy out of love for Christ. What person in the 20th century lived as convincingly as this saint from Calcutta the fourth Beatitude (Mt 5:6), "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied"?

Fast food fiasco

Contemporary American society tempts us to seek immediate gratification. It prompts us to adopt attitudes such as "having it my way," "doing what feels good," and "being comfortable with our choices." It urges us to "insist on our own rights," even at the expense of others’ rights, such as those of unborn children, the elderly and even one’s spouse.

What we have in society, as a result of these self-centered tendencies, is a famine for the things of God. But many don’t realize that there is a famine. They don’t notice that a social and emotional gluttony is spreading like a virus, leaving unfed the hungers of the heart and soul while camouflaging our God-given appetite for what is good, beautiful and true.
It is time to listen again to the Lord’s words (Is 55:2-3): "Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy? …Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life."

A thirst for righteousness

Jesus, on many occasions, returned to the theme of the fourth Beatitude. For example, in the latter part of His Sermon on the Mount, which began with the Beatitudes, He says (Mt 6:31), "So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’… Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides."

Righteousness, which could also be called holiness or justice, comes from being forgiven by God, freed from our slavery to the passions and brought into harmony with the Lord and with others. Our righteousness is not authentic if we try to make it a merely private matter between God and self without a concern for others. The righteous are eager for the dignity and rights of everyone to be respected. Such eagerness, contrary to what we might think, does not lead to a feverish activism. It leads rather to a heightened awareness of the human need for rest and prayer (Cf. Mk 6:31), along with the need for family and friends.

Of course, we never fully achieve righteousness here on earth. Nevertheless, God is continually summoning us to it, just as He did the Chosen People during their exodus from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. Deuteronomy describes God’s saving action in this way (Deut 8:3): "He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna… in order to show you that not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord."

A thirst that leads to trust in God

In the fourth Beatitude, Jesus draws our attention beyond the confines of what our five senses can detect. He lifts our minds and hearts to the things of eternity, far beyond the limits of this world. Jesus came that we might have abundant life (Cf. Jn 10:10), life like nothing this world can provide, indeed a share in the very life of the Blessed Trinity. Christ opens our horizon beyond material things, leading us to the things of God.

Psalm 42 provides us with a prayer that picks up the central motif of the fourth Beatitude (vv 2-3), "Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God. My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life; when can I enter and see the face of God?"
To stretch towards heaven, to long for the day when we can enter into the presence of God and see Him face to face — this is the blessing that Jesus promises. This spiritual thirst, far from wearying the soul, actually refreshes and renews it. It is not wishful thinking but thoughtful longing. It is a thirst that coincides with God’s plan for our eternal happiness. It strengthens our trust in the Lord and our confidence in His love.