By Ani Ghazaryan Drissi*
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness..."
The justice and righteousness of the fourth beatitude are presented by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew as a necessity. This justice is the way to happiness promised by the fourth beatitude: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6). Only those who hunger and thirst for divine justice will be satisfied and filled with happiness. However, for centuries, a major question arises over the meaning of this justice: what is the justice that Matthew presents? Why, contrary to the evangelist Luke who presents a physical hunger and thirst (Luke 6:21), does Matthew emphasize the need to suffer hunger and thirst for righteousness? What kind of justice does the first Gospel present?
Justice (δικαιοσύνη) in the Gospel of Matthew does not refer to the right due to each or, as in the Epistles of Paul, where the believer receives the justice from God for free. For Matthew, as in Jewish writings, justice is a commitment: a loyalty, a life adjusted to the desire of a God to which the believer decides to be close (see Matthew 3:15; 5:20; 6: 1.33; 21:32). Justice is a key word for Matthew; it refers to all that is related to the will of God according to Scripture, either in relations with others (Matthew 5:20) or the right attitude toward God (Matthew 6:1). Longing for justice is as much to commit to the divine will by a life of fidelity as waiting impatiently to come into the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:10).
Justice in the first Gospel is faithfulness to God. The hunger and thirst for justice are hunger and thirst for a world where biblical values are important, a world that lives in the spirit of the beatitudes. Every human being has need of divine justice. The need for justice is even more emphasized among the poor, the oppressed, and the bereaved.