What is the fourth beatitude and what is its meaning?
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Matthew 5,6)
The word righteousness here has the meaning from the Old Testament of godliness as it is at saint John Chrysostom, virtue in general as it is at saint Chiril of Alexandria, all virtue as was said by Zigaben. In other words the accomplishment of the commandments of God, holiness, the right faith and behavior. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are all those who wish fervently to see good being accomplished. This wish is as natural and permanent as bodily hunger and thirst. Those who showed this powerful wish were especially the saints and the martyrs who for Christ left their families, fortune, own will and strived to live a life of high spirituality.
The promised satiety must be comprehended as a fulfillment of the hopes by reaching perfection, holiness partially in this life and fully in the afterlife. This shall be according to the promise of the Savior Who says:
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. (Matthew 19, 29).
`To be hungry and thirsty after righteousness` also means to aim and try from all our might to accomplish justice as a social virtue for us and our brothers.
And when because of our humility, poverty, clumsiness or because of the power of the accuser we are wronged in this life we should not be disheartened but hold on the hope that we shall get justice if not in this life, like the persistent woman from the parable with the unjust judge (Luke 18, 2-7) for sure in the afterlife.
The sense of justice is so deeply ingrained in the human being that it is right to be compared with the bodily need for food and water without which the man cannot live.
In the Old Testament hungry and thirsty for righteousness were righteous Job, kings David and Solomon and the prophets. Thus David complains in psalm 73 that the evil ones are not punished on earth and the righteous don’t receive the reward for their virtue. And prophet Jeremiah revolts against the lawbreakers (12,1,4) Isaiah shouts against the oppressors and unjust judges:
Stop doing wrong, Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.Take up the cause of the fatherless;plead the case of the widow (1, 16-17).
The wronged Christians have the privilege to wait after the promise of the Lord a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.(II Peter 3, 13) Having this hope they bear easier the pains linked with their hunger and thirst after righteousness which shall be satiated in all its plenitude only in the Heavenly Kingdom.