Hunger and thirst for righteousness

This is a translation of a scriptural meditation from the Russian book, “Day by Day”:

Scripture: “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matt: 5, 6)


"The famous sculptor, Torvaldsen, worked for a long time, with increasing enthusiasm, on a statue of Christ, but apparently when he finished it, he became very sad. When he was questioned about this sadness, he replied: “For the first time in my life I am satisfied with my work; until now my dreams far exceeded what I could fulfill. Now, however, when it seems to me that I have reached the highest ideal, I have nothing more to look forward to, nothing to strive for”. Having been satisfied with his work, having achieved his goal, he immediately seemed to become weaker and lose energy and joy in further creativity.

"Without agreeing with the great artist’s thought about achieving the ideal which the image of the Savior represents, no matter the greatness of an artistic creation, we must agree with the depth and truth of his thought. If our feelings, needs and aspirations could in any way be forever satisfied here on earth, we would become somnambulant, and the spiritual growth of our soul would cease.

"This law applies to every life. Hunger is a sign of health in a living organism, and the thirst for knowledge is a sign of the development of mental capabilities. If this thirst did not exist, there would be stagnation. In the spiritual life hunger and thirst and a lack of satisfaction with oneself prove the existence of a striving for the highest ideals. “Blessed are they who hunger and thirst”, – blessed are the unsatisfied, blessed are they who are always hungry, who wish for greater and greater love, who are ever striving to achieve something higher. This great spiritual thirst, this irrepressible, burning desire and striving for a closer, more intimate, full and perfect communion with God, is a sign of a healthy spiritual life, a sign of an awakened and reborn soul. In this insatiable striving for what is better, in this longing for home, so to speak, for a new life and total perfection, one finds the ideal of the Christian spirit.

"So full of abundance is the wellspring of God, that the human soul cannot immediately contain it, and reaches for Him again and again with a constantly renewed thirst. It satisfies and delights the soul and thus creates within it a greater and greater desire to be filled with it.

"In filling the soul, it expands and inundates it, so that it overflows and spreads to others.

I think that a hunger and thirst for righteousness is, ultimately, a hunger and thirst for God, and I think that all of Lewis’s works could be described that way.

One small example is Lewis’s answer to a question posed by a member of an audience – “How can I find God?”. Lewis says:

“People will find God if they consciously seek from Him the right attitude towards all unpleasant things” (God in the Dock, Part 1, 4)

But this isn’t always easy, as Lewis himself found out immediately after Joy’s death.


“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)

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The noted theologians, Monty Python, paraphrased this verse as “blessed are those who hunger and thirst to see right prevail,” and it seems like a reasonable paraphrase. More than that would require further thought.

Dan, I was a bit flummoxed by “the noted theologians, Monty Python”. I had heard of Monty Python, of course, but have never seen any of the productions. I assumed that Monty Python was a person, so I couldn’t understand the plural use of “theologians”. I was even thinking that your account had been hacked. But I decided to “google” Monty Python and discovered, of course, that that is actually a group of humorists. Maybe you could indicate the production from which that quote is from? (I had always assumed that those productions were anti-religious).

But, speaking of the word “righteousness”, its interesting that the Greek word, δικαιοσύνην, is translated as “truth” in Russian. Our Lord did not speak Greek, of course, but Aramaic, and who knows what that Aramaic word was, translated as δικαιοσύνην into the Greek of the Gospel. In any case, we can certainly be sure that it was something good (smiling_face).


Yeah, that may have been a little obscure. Monty Python were an English comedy troupe active from the late 1960s through the early 1980s, and they still have somewhat of a cult following today. Their TV show, Monty Python’s Flying Circus, ran four seasons on BBC TV, and their best-known movie, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, remains popular today. They may not have been anti-religious, but they were definitely non-religious.

The quote is from their 1979 film The Life of Brian, which tells the story of Brian of Nazareth, who is (spoiler alert) mistaken for the Messiah and crucified. At one point, Brian and his mother are present at the Sermon on the Mount, and in this rendition of the Sermon, that’s how they render the Beatitude. The film itself is definitely irreverent, but the members of the group have consistently maintained that they intended no disrespect to Christ himself.

I’d think it highly likely that he did, as that was the lingua franca in that portion of the Roman Empire at the time. He would have spoken Aramaic as well, naturally, but whether he conducted his public ministry in Greek, Aramaic, or a combination is unclear. Though I understand there’s a growing scholarly opinion that He spoke more Greek than was previously believed, possibly to the extent of conducting most of His public ministry in that language.

This certainly seems to be his view in describing Emeth. In that situation, Aslan says,

Not because [Tash] and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me the services which thou has done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. . . . unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.

The Last Battle, ch. 15, para. 6.

Edit: And Emeth’s name means “truth” in Hebrew, I understand, bringing things full circle.