What is righteousness, and why would Jesus consider hungering for it a blessing?
This Sunday our Pneuma Divina passage is actually a set of passages, all of which are highlighted in Jim Forest’s book, The Ladder of the Beatitudes, as revealing a particular quality of righteousness. Jim will be our Skype Guest, whom we’re bringing to us from Amsterdam! Do any of the following passages reveal a side of righteousness you may not have considered?
Better is the little that the righteous person has than the abundance of many wicked.
The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
With their mouths the godless would destroy their neighbors, but by knowledge the righteous are delivered.
Those who trust in their riches will wither, but the righteous will flourish like green leaves.
All day long the wicked covet, but the righteous give and do not hold back.
The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.
The righteous know the rights of the poor; the wicked have no such understanding.
One passage that stands out most to me is this last one, about the righteous knowing the rights of the poor in contrast to the wicked. We don’t like to talk about either righteousness or wickedness much these days, but in the understanding of Proverbs, differentiating between the two revolves at least in part around which one knows and (one may infer) responds to what is just and right for the poor. If Proverbs is correct, and if Jesus’ observation that we are blessed when we hunger and thirst for righteousness is correct, then one implication is that yearning for justice for the poor benefits not only the poor, but anyone who shares this yearning.
In this respect, I’m very excited to have Jim Forest on as a Skype Guest this weekend. Not only has he written an amazingly good commentary on The Beatitudes, but he’s got an amazing story to tell about a woman named Maria Skobtsova, whose hunger for justice for the poor and oppressed led her to the most unusual form of blessing one might imagine. What was it? Well, get online and find out this weekend. You won’t be sorry. And … we’ll be streaming much smoother video and WITHOUT POP-UP ADS!