Sunday, 23 February 2014

The Beatitudes: Hunger and Thirst after Justice


"Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after Justice for they shall be filled" (Mt 5:6)

The meaning of the word "Justice" should not be confused with its modern usage which according to the Oxford Dictionary means: fairness, exercise of authority in maintenance of a right, reward of virtue and punishment of vice. In our world these have become relative; what is fair to one is unfair to another, what is right to one is seen as wrong by another, and virtues and vices have become interchangeable.
 
 
Some however interpret justice as righteousness which means, according to the Oxford Dictionary: upright, virtuous and law-abiding which come a little closer but even these words are exposed to modern relative misinterpretation, for example perverted or unjust-laws cannot be abided by.
The Bible has a different interpretation of justice: "being as God wishes us to be" (Catholic Community Bible). Indeed, Coleridge proposes to that us "Christians should hunger and thirst through activities reaching over our whole life, both interior and exterior, concerning all our relations and duties, whether to God, our neighbour and ourselves". Justice is used in two senses by the New Testament: giving everyone his due, as viewed through the perception of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Cardinal Virtues, and it is in this sense that Jesus refers to justice: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, fear of the Lord, coupled with humility, liberality, chastity, meekness, temperance, brotherly love and diligence.
St Bernadine sees justice as giving to God, honour as our Creator and Redeemer, fear and reverence as our Judge; to ourselves purity of heart, custody of our tongue and discipline of our body; to our neighbour obedience if superior, concord if our equal and beneficence if our inferior.
So in reality what we should be hungering and thirsting for today is a desire to see justice as defined not in the perverted world's relative terms but in Jesus' sense, by spreading this sense so that it increases and flourishes in the world at large and in the souls of the faithful. This desire yearns for the conversion of all sinners, especially the Church, the healing of all schisms, the peaceful advances of Christian principles in society and the removal of all that is evil and perverted. This is until the Kingdoms of the world become those of God and His Son Jesus Christ, the triumph of Christ's Church over all God's and her enemies, internally and externally and the sanctity of her members.
 
 
All the above desires and thirsting are far from what this world assumes justice to be and the world increasingly frowns on such justice, even though it means its salvation and true freedom rather than those of an illusion which always slips its grasp, as it confronts the impact of accumulative evil, indeed cosmic evil, from which the increasingly sinful world sees no relief. This is aggravated by the broken promises of science and technology as expounded by their priesthood: everything seems to be increasingly beyond its capabilities so that global disenchantment sets in as we are seeing today. The world is running out of options and excuses and parts of it, especially in the West, are spiralling down into the abyss facing a Godless future of despair.
How do we aspire to justice and thirst for it as God desires us? We start with evolving from Poverty of Spirit by putting God in His rightful place and the Word in its true place, and this lifts us up to see our unworthiness and thereby we become increasingly weak. This comes about by us recognising that we are really nothing in the grand scheme of things and that all that we are and have are God given. As we progress in meekness we increasingly perceive the purity and goodness of God and focus on our own sinfulness. 
The saints perceived themselves as great sinners in comparison to God's purity. Then we, as they did, truly mourn and from God's forgiveness springs the deepest desire to bring His world into being rather than the sordid sinful one we live in. The world as He created in the beginning and wanted to be but for the sin of man which has been reverberating throughout the cosmos ever since, becoming increasingly distorted by sin. The scientific priesthood always fails to see and understand why the environment is clamouring in protest, lumping all under "climate change" which is a chameleon to hide their ignorance.
 
 
We become spurred into Christian activity to restore the honour of God, repair the passion of Jesus by living a life within which we overcome the empire of evil under which we all groan. We free ourselves from world enslavement to want Christ's justice in the largest sense of the word, that of God in the world.
 
 
As we become in tune with God we cry out for God's world to embrace our poor: in that world there are no poor, no food banks, no hunger or disease, no homeless, no lack of warmth, no people who don't care or any who would deny that they exist or suffer, and no destitution. 
A man had to beg outside the Cathedral because he had no home and no address and therefore could receive no benefits as he waited, living in a tent until the Council provided him with the roof over his head that they had promised a year before. Fortunately this was granted shortly after his tent was stolen. He had no safety net to protect him from the elements and keep him alive and this in this rich country of ours.
Fortunately he knew of one place where he was always welcomed and could keep the weather off and this was with Jesus inside the Cathedral. So he spent his time at the very back where he prayed for those who were generous to him. He was saved from total annihilation just in time. Justice for the poor has to be a priority in what we hunger and thirst for.
 
 
The mourners of the world, however try to bury their pain and sorrow in feverish involvement in practical activities, political strife, scientific or technological research and other intellectual and mental work. Others wallow in self-pity and listlessness or indulge themselves in a whirl of pleasure-seeking including sex, drink and drugs. When they eventually come out of this stupor (and some never do) they find that it was a complete waste of time and despair sets in, leading to the ultimate sin.
 
 
The Christian mourner who is purged from the world and its foolishness and goods, has replaced self by God and others, including a grasping possession of others for selfish reasons, and is a humble servant of God, finds his appetite for all that concerns God's glory sharpened. Cry as you must and ride through the shock of parting but see those gone within God's loving hands and pray for their rapid purgation to perfection allowing them to be in God's presence. They are out of this perverted world and within God's world: envy them and look forward to the end we must all want to reach through real justice: God's world in which our sorrows and tears will be no more.
 
 
Using the world's way of mourning brings little to no benefit and by trying to blot out the pain ensures that it will emerge later through mental and physical illnesses and the comfort we ache for is denied us. Spiritual mourning on the other hand leads us to God and His world and His justice: from this comes our comfort and we will have our fill of His loving justice. We emerge from that stronger and more able to go on.
Out of all our mourning over our immediate world and the world as a whole, we begin to interpret our little world and the world out there, conditions, prospects and actions with serenity. We see with more clarity God's hand in everything, all situations good or bad, and welcome it, thirsting for its goodness, especially that which comes out of evil. We are made for God and we will be never satisfied until we are with God in this life and the next. If we truly hunger and thirst for God's World we will be satisfied and live with great peace, not of this world, even in the chaos and woes which at any time can flood us.
 
 
 
During this period of the great floods in this country, how many churches and people offered up petitions to God for help and comfort, asking for His deliverance and for His World rather than that which has been buried under the floods which can never be the same? How many people dared to see His loving hand in all of this to bring us to a point of forgetting self and replacing it by others? Surely many saw the wonderful good of those we never knew had it in them and that is the goodness of God in them. No matter how bad the situation really is, out of it will eventually come good and praise God for this Those that did and do will be comforted, finding God's peace and be satisfied. How many will feverishly try to regain the world they lost and not be satisfied?
We end this topic, which has been most difficult to research and prepare, with apologies for any errors or incorrect interpretations and a Columban Fathers prayer which encapsulates it all:

Thank You Lord
Thank you, Jesus, that I can see,
so many people are blind.
Thank you that I can hear,
so many people are deaf.
Thank you that I can run and play,
so many people are sick.
Thank you that I have enough to eat,
so many thousands are starving.
Thank you that the door of our church is open,
so many are nailed and barred.
For all these things and all your blessings,
never let me forget to thank you.
And if it be your will that I should lose
some of them or all of them,
Give me the grace to say "Your will be done".
And never let me forget that anyone blind
or deaf, anyone crippled or lame,
anyone cold or hungry, anyone needing a home,
is not just anyone but is really You.