The Beatitudes: Blessed Are Those Who Hunger and Thirst For Righteousness
Luke 1:46-55, Matt 5:6
The UK has more than 400 foodbanks. In the last six months alone, they have given out over half a million food parcels to individuals or families in need- and yet we’re the fifth biggest economy in the world. Supermarkets are beginning to change their practice on discarding unsold food at the end of the day, but levels of food waste are still scandalously high.
The Bible repeatedly uses images of food and drink as a metaphor for justice and fulfilment. When Mary hears Gabriel’s message that she is to become the mother of Jesus, she breaks out into a song of radical reversal: ‘God has filled the hungry with good things, but he has sent the rich away empty’. For too long, those who were literally hungry, or hungry for justice, were expected to wait for fulfilment: if you were patient in this life you would get your reward in eternity, so there was no point in protesting. It’s possible to read the Beatitudes that way too: ‘Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled’. But Mary suggests something different. Mary’s whole song is a challenge to the accepted order of things. The great, the powerful, the proud have to make way now for the poor, the hungry, those on the edge. Instead of having to wait endlessly for food, or justice, she speaks as if it has already happened- as if nothing is impossible.
I’m writing just as massive change is unfolding in Zimbabwe. A reversal which once seemed impossible has finally happened. There’s still a very long way to go; but those who have worked and prayed for justice there, who still hunger and thirst for righteousness elsewhere, are singing Mary’s song.
a) At the end of the term, work together with your local church, your university chaplaincy and/or your student union to collect unused, in-date food from student kitchens which can be donated to the local foodbank or homeless shelter. As Christmas approaches, there are a lot of families who won’t be able to afford treats or presents for their children, so chocolates, sweets and toys are especially welcome.