Our Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness
“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6.
What does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness? The hunger and thirst for righteousness suggests that we are aware that the world around us is not always fair, right or always just. When we are moved by our encounter with the unmet needs of others, we become aware of our hunger and thirst for righteousness. The ability to empathize with other human beings is a part of being human. Our Lady of Hope parishioners consistently demonstrate their empathy and compassion through:
• buying Christmas presents for those listed on our giving trees,
• donating food to the food pantry,
• donating clothes to the St. Vincent de Paul Society,
• buying toiletries for refugees who have arrived in Maine,
• giving money to Catholic relief efforts for areas devastated by hurricanes, and
• expressing solidarity with those experiencing war or violence
And, in many, many other ways.
Responding to Those in Need
Throughout its history, the Catholic Church has sought to respond to those in need. In his book, “Living Justice: Catholic Social Teaching in Action,” Fr. Tom Massaro SJ points to a new perspective. He writes, “The difference is that today, according to the newer model of church activity that emphasizes justice in addition to charity, more church efforts consist of indirect attempts to change social structures (including civil laws and government budget priorities) so that all people may have a better and fairer chance of living a good life.”
In our compassionate and empathic response to those in need around us, we can find common ground, even when otherwise divided by differences of ideology or philosophy. We can move beyond these disagreements to put a common love of neighbor into action. Catholic social teachings over the last century have invited us to look at both addressing the immediate needs we see before us and to begin to address the underlying structures that create and sustain the unfairness in our world, nation, and region.
An Invitation to Notice
Last week, I invited us to use the archeologist’s tools to begin to notice patterns in our lives and society. This week, I’m inviting us to notice specific patterns, the pattern of unfairness and injustice in our society, whether experienced by us personally or experienced by others. To notice our movement to empathy and compassion resulting in a move to action. Finally, beginning to notice whether we feel a call to respond to the immediate need (charity) or the underlying root causes (justice) of the unfairness or injustice.
Fr. Brian Conley, SJ