Written by Br. Gabriel Torretta, OP
All hikers have, at some point or another, found themselves completely out of water, several arduous miles away from trail’s end. Once the heat and labor of the day exhaust the body’s normal water supplies, the burning thirst that results has a curious effect; rather than simply sapping the hiker’s strength, the thirst focuses his energy and attention on the single goal of finishing the hike and finding water.
Hunger and thirst are physical imperatives that will not let themselves be ignored; we either obey our body’s demands for food and water or we die. There are no other options.
The fourth beatitude transforms and elevates those physical desires, without losing any of their seriousness: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” The desire for righteousness, for a genuine relationship with God, is as real as hunger and thirst, and is even more essential. The body will die without food and drink, but without a living relationship with God, the soul itself may be imperiled.
But the desire for righteousness is not desperate or frantic; rather, the desire focuses our attention on God, making us more single-minded, more willing to give up all else in order to live in his love. Neither is the desire for righteousness a matter of forcing myself to feel something I don’t. Because God is the only one who can bring us to relationship with him, only he can put the desire in our hearts.
The good news is that God has already given us that desire. Jesus Christ redeemed us through his Incarnation, death, and resurrection so that he might draw us out of the selfish morass into which our sin sinks us and fill us with longing for unity with him in heaven. He sustains us by his grace, that we might live with our hearts fixed with joy on his Second Coming, when he will quench the thirst of all who burn for love of him.
Today’s meditation: Skip a meal today and offer God your hunger. Spend some time in prayer when hungry.