When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. (Psalm 34:17)
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness . . . ."(Mt. 5:6)
Who are the righteous? What does righteousness look like?
The scribes and Pharisees seemed to believe that they were the righteous. They knew the letter of the law, and lived it. They cast judgement upon those they deemed unfit and unworthy: tax collectors, merchants, the women with many husbands. From all outer appearances, their judgments just might stand.
What about us? How often do we look at the teen in the pew at Mass and wonder with disdain why they aren't dressed more appropriately? Or the man with funny mannerisms and a mohawk and wonder who catechized him? Speaking of catechizing, how often do we judge our parish programs but refuse to volunteer our time to help the typically over-burdened DRE? How often do we turn our hearts towards God, seeking His power to change our hearts in the confessional and turn us more towards the righteousness of the Psalms and Beatitudes?
Are we striving for, yearning for true righteousness and seeking God, so that He may deliver us? Or are we playing games with ourselves and putting on airs, refusing to look in the forgotten and hidden corners of our hearts, to see that we do need deliverance? Oh, yes, I am always at Sunday Mass, sometimes daily Mass, and pray every night with my family. My motions and outward appearance look pretty nice. But my heart, well, I need my God to deliver me from my sin. I yearn for the sort of righteousness the Psalm and the Beatitudes speak of, the sort that compels me to choose the right thing even if I first grumble and whine, "I don't wanna!"
True righteousness doesn't attract personal attention. It seeks God, seeks to do the will of God, seeks to spread love to all those around us. Morally right and just actions consider the Greatest Commandment: to love God above all things, and then to love neighbor as you love yourself. True righteousness is seeking to live an upright life, not just the "letter of the law," but the best way to live and love, with the Law of God on our hearts guiding our every thought, word, and deed.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that "the Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness" (CCC 1718). So, the Beatitude to thirst for righteousness is a desire for happiness. To thirst for morally right actions in our life is to thirst to do God's will—to love Him and others. To strive for this is to live as Jesus is calling us to live: hearing the word of God and believing it, so that we can be counted among those who enter the kingdom of God because of the way we lived and loved, not the way we worried about following the precise "letter of the law."
I long to be counted among those who believe, those who hear the word of God and keep it, those righteous who cry for help and are delivered by the hand of God. Today, I will quiet my thoughts and let God speak to my heart, showing me how to best follow Him in each moment. I will cry to God for help; help to turn from my own sinfulness and turn my desires towards Him alone.
Gina Fensterer is a wife, daughter, mother, friend, homeschooling mama and Colorado native. You can find out more about her here.