Matthew 5: 6
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled
The Church where Sheila and I married, Castleford Parish, is a Peculiar church, not because we married there but because it does not come directly under a Diocesan Bishop, rather for some reason it is administered direct by the Archbishopric of York. I am sure 95% of the weekly worshippers know little and care less about this administrative oddity. It does though sometimes throw up problems like when the wonderful Vicar, Rev Fell, who married us retired it caused all manner of delays because at the same time there was a vacancy at York Minster, and everything was on hold until a new Archbishop arrived, it’s not just the Church of Scotland that have labyrinthine procedures!
Rev Fell had an organist who had played at Castleford for years and a Church Warden (sort of Session Clerk) who also had years of service. Each Sunday there would be an early Communion at 8, Family Service at 9 and Morning Service at 11. This finished about Noon meaning that by the time the three of them got everything put away it was about 12:30 which quite by chance happened to be the time the Working Men’s Club across the road opened , so not wishing to appear rude the three of them would nip in for a relaxing drink before going home to their lunches. Every Sunday as he lifted the glass to his lips Rev Fell would exclaim “Ah the thirst after righteousness”.
We all to some extent desire goodness and righteousness, an old Judge from between the wars spoke of all the criminals he had encountered over his long career as Barrister and Judge. He said that even the meanest and most base of those had at some point a characteristic of goodness within him or her, no person he said is completely devoid of human kindness. Some may argue of course but history records many a criminal who showed humanity.
One of Al Capone’s great rival in the gangster business of Chicago a man who would not think twice about ordering or indeed carrying out a murder had been brought up by rough father and a mother who was a florist. The story goes that he kept his mother’s shop as a front for his criminal activities but he also had a great skill as a florist. Often whilst his men were out carrying out his violent and deadly orders he would produce the most delicate and beautiful arrangements for a wedding later that day.
But Jesus here is not asking if you hunger and thirst after righteousness but how much do you do so?
If you seek righteousness the way a starving man seeks food, or a person dying of thirst seeks water, then the good news, the Blessing, is that you shall be satisfied and not temporarily as the starving man once fed shall become hungry again, the thirst will return to the throat of the sated by God’s righteousness within us and will never run out.
Lord God our loving Father in Heaven, we try to be righteous but we fail time and again, yet keep us seeking, keep us looking to you for fulfilment. Feed us that we may never be hungry.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,