6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Again and again in scripture God is revealed as a god who feeds the hungry. Psalm 107 declares, “He satisfies the thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things.” Psalm 146 proclaims the God of Jacob who “executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free.” When Isaiah 40 says, “He gives power to the faint,” in that wonderful passage about mounting up “with wings like eagles,” the Greek translates it as “he gives strength to the hungry.” Again and again the Hebrew word rendered ‘faint’ refers to the faintness caused by hunger.
God is a god who feeds the hungry, who delivers those in bondage, who is the defender of widows and orphans. When Matthew records Jesus’ words, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled,” it cannot be separated from the underlying notion of God’s care for the poor and vulnerable. The hungry are blessed not because they are hungry, but because there is a God who comes to the aid of those who hunger and who will bring all creation to a shared table.
It is this idea that connects Jesus’ promise in Luke, “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.” with the longer declaration here in Matthew. Hunger for righteousness is hunger for a just world – God’s just world – where bread is shared.
In the scripture, righteousness does not consist of a passing grade on a moral exam; it is not the observance of a list of rules and regulations; it is faithfulness to God and to one another. The Greek and Hebrew words that are usually translated as ‘righteousness’ refer to that fidelity to one another that fulfills all social obligations. It is why the word can be translated as both righteousness and justice, for their meanings merge. The ‘righteous’ keep faith with God and with one another. They remember and live the obligations to justice and mercy, to love of neighbor and love of God.
So the hungry will be filled – the hungry who, because they are hungry, hunger for a just world. And this hunger for a just world, this hunger for a world governed by the Spirit of God, this hunger for a world governed by justice and mercy is honored in God’s sight.
And it shall be filled.