The beatitude: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled is much easier to understand if we miss out one word! Few of us are likely to have gone hungry or thirsty for too long because we are privileged to live where we are. Though we may know just a little of what it means to be hungry or thirsty there will be none of the desperate longings that so many in our world suffer.
Yet, we are very aware of other kinds of longing. I remember hearing at school about the pyramid of human need that a famous psychologist developed. 5 layers of a pyramid to describe key motivations of human need. (I googled it to refresh my memory!) At the bottom, wide and essential, are basic physical needs such as water, food and rest. These are a matter of life and death and tragically many people live day-to-day in search of these essentials. The next layer is security and safety. Again physical needs that many of us can take for granted but millions of people cannot easily attain. Even in our own country some long for these basic needs to be met. A woman was interviewed on TV who said she was on the basic wage but still had to skip meals herself so her children to eat and turn the heating off in order to survive. 'I just live from day-to-day', she said.
The next levels concerns emotional needs - belongingness and love. Deep desire to have relationships with others. The fourth level is esteem - a feeling of accomplishment. And at the top of the pyramid is self-actualization - achieving one's potential. The truth is that while many of us are not striving for basic physical needs so often there is real hunger for relationships to work out, for a deeper sense of accomplishment and achieving greater potential. Looking at this pyramid it does seem to sum up all the things that human beings strive for.
But on the hillside, Jesus says NO. There's a more important longing you should feel. A deeper sense of being empty and parched and a longing to be filled. A very different sort of hunger and thirst! How hungry and thirsty are you for RIGHTEOUSNESS asks Jesus. And that word RIGHTEOUSNESS changes everything.