Faith at Work LXXXII

May 2011

So to our fourth beatitude: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” [Matthew 5:6]. We are lucky in this country that there is plenty of food and a good water supply, though there are also plenty of folk who struggle to make ends meet and have to eke out their weekly budget to feed the family – it is salutary to think that today there are over a billion people in the world who live on less than a dollar per day; there is a huge imbalance between those who have and those who have not and much to be done to alleviate suffering.

So the metaphor that Jesus uses to encourage people to strive for good is just as applicable today as it was when he used it to illustrate his mission. William Barclay, however, takes it a little further in his commentary. He points out the unusual case in the Greek following the verbs hunger and thirst. The normal construction using the genitive case would allow people to be satisfied with some righteousness, but the use of the accusative, he suggests, demands nothing less than complete good, an impossible goal. Knowing that, the people who will be blessed are those who are entirely dedicated to their cause, people who deny themselves for the good of others. Jesus is our prime example as we think of him being led out to die on the cross, determined right to the end to work for the good of the whole world.

How do we emulate that? We have to find our own way, but one group of people recently have discerned that countries are better off, for health, for lifespan, for reduced crime, for quality of life and happiness, for all sorts of good things if income inequality can be reduced. They have written it up in a book ingeniously called “the Spirit level” and set up the Equality Trust to take it further. Their research can be found on their website and their aims are to spread understanding of their findings and to encourage governments to take heed. They declare that this principle should work at all levels in society. If we are all living with more similar resource levels, we will naturally raise our care and concern for one another and a greater sense of community and well-being will result.

This idea underpins our church’s vision of improving our listening not just to the people that come to worship together but also to the community in which we serve. As we do that, it is likely that we will hear concern for situations elsewhere in the wider world because we cannot isolate ourselves from others. This will remind us of the need for new life both for ourselves and for others, life that we often associate with the risen Jesus at Easter time. So, in words that we often use during our corporate prayer for others:

may we honour one another
and seek the common good.

This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
This page was last updated on 2011-03-31

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