“Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst for Justice”

by | Sep 11, 2019 | Formation, Justice and Peace, Reflections, Systemic change

Hunger and Thirst for Justice

Advocacy, Going Against the Flow, as a Dimension of Holiness

I must admit that I have never consciously connected advocacy and holiness. But Pope Francis did. And he said it pretty directly in his recent writing explaining everyday holiness. “Hungering and thirsting for righteousness: that is holiness.” Of course it is not the only dimension of holiness. But it is certainly a dimension of holiness. He is not the first one to say so. He reminds us that Jesus said it centuries ago. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

How Does Pope Francis Make the Connection?

He writes…

77. Hunger and thirst are intense experiences, since they involve basic needs and our instinct for survival. There are those who desire justice and yearn for righteousness with similar intensity. Jesus says that they will be satisfied, for sooner or later justice will come. We can cooperate to make that possible, even if we may not always see the fruit of our efforts.

79 “Seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Is 1:17). “Hungering and thirsting for righteousness: that is holiness.”

Jesus’ Challenge to Go Against the Flow

Pope Francis includes going against the flow as an activity which sanctifies.

65. Although Jesus’ words may strike us as poetic, they clearly run counter to the way things are usually done in our world. Even if we find Jesus’ message attractive, the world pushes us towards another way of living.

90. Jesus himself warns us that the path he proposes goes against the flow, even making us challenge society by the way we live and, as a result, becoming a nuisance. He reminds us how many people have been, and still are, persecuted simply because they struggle for justice, because they take seriously their commitment to God and to others. Unless we wish to sink into an obscure mediocrity, let us not long for an easy life, for “whoever would save his life will lose it” (Mt 16:25).

91. In living the Gospel, we cannot expect that everything will be easy, for the thirst for power and worldly interests often stands in our way… the Beatitudes are not easy to live out; any attempt to do so will be viewed negatively, regarded with suspicion, and met with ridicule.

I would like to reiterate that mercy does not exclude justice and truth; indeed, “we have to say that mercy is the fullness of justice and the most radiant manifestation of God’s truth.”[90] It is “the key to heaven.”[91]

Accepting daily the path of the Gospel, even though it may cause us problems: that is holiness.


All this made me think

  • Is my concept of holiness too small and individualistic?
  • How is being the voice of poor an activity which sanctifies?
  • Do I avoid this activity which sanctifies?


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