I long for a just society is where each member of the community cares for the rights of each other member. This sounds a little idealistic but we can hunger and thirst to live in a world where this ideal for humanity is paramount. Jesus told us that God blesses those who seek justice for their fellow-man.
“God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6 New Living Translation)
Righteousness and Justice
“George”, you may well say, “Surely this is normally translated, ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness'”. Yes this is normally translated as ‘righteousness’ but the author Richard Rohr says,
“Most Bibles to this day soften this Beatitude: ‘hunger and thirst for what is right’ or ‘for righteousness’ are the more common faulty translations. But the word in Greek clearly means “justice.”
In the bible the words ‘righteousness’ and ‘justice’ often appear together and are almost synonymous. We tend to think that righteousness has a lot to do with personal morality but biblically righteousness is social and more to do with how we treat our fellow-man. The modern word ‘justice’ has connotations of judgement and punishment, but in the bible justice is about a just society which looks after the poor, the sick and the disadvantaged.
Righteousness and Justice is the global responsibility of the human race to ensure that every human being has what they need, that everyone seeks justice for every other human being, and that everyone lives in a right relationship with one another, creation, and God.
Loving our neighbour
An expert in the law, asked Jesus “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied, ‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments. (Matthew 22: 37-40 NIV)
Love and Justice
Love and Justice must go together. In 2012 I wrote:
“Love without justice is sentimentality,
Justice without love is legalism.”
Loving our neighbour as ourself doesn’t mean having nice thoughts about our neighbour. Love must involve actions – it means how we treat our fellow-man – this is true justice.
Now I am not very good at sticking up for my own rights – but in a just society someone else does that for me as I seek their good!
A longing for Justice
To hunger and thirst for justice means to have a deep look longing for a just society. We long to live in a world where everyone is making justice a top priority.
But it is not good enough to expect other people, or the system, to act justly – we must act with justice ourselves.