The fourth beatitude is “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” It’s like he was telling them that despite their circumstances, they could seek after God and the righteousness that He desires and they would be filled with the right knowledge, the right thinking, the right actions, and the right attitudes that would change the world…the kind of world that God envisions.
Beatitudes five through nine represent something else. They move away from things we experience to the things I mentioned in the fourth beatitude, things that lead to righteousness.
“Blessed are the merciful” says Jesus; “Blessed are the pure in heart”; Blessed are the peacemakers” … This world knows too much cruelty, intolerance, and harshness. Strife and violence are tearing our world apart. The current divide in our own country seems fueled by those who have become so convinced of their own virtue and vice, they have no desire for reconciliation nor compromise. The path of Christ requires the arduous effort of finding common ground, of seeing the opponent’s view point, of admitting that we might be wrong, and becoming peacemakers.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” … “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” If you strive to live as Christ lived, you will be at odds with the values and traditions of our culture. You may even become a target. Stand firm! Stand for what is right! Be merciful…Be a peacemaker… strive to have a pure heart…Be kingdom minded, you are blessed!
One of my favorite parts of New Testament scripture is Matthew chapter 13. It’s the parables of Jesus. He tells them the Parable of the Sower, then his disciples ask him; “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” It’s almost like the disciples are saying; “The people understand the story, but they don’t get the point!” He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘You will be ever hearing but never under-standing; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ But Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”