Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Matthew 5:6
Good morning Prayer Team!
The world says “You’ve got to be kidding. Hungering and thirsting for righteousness in this world is a waste of time. It’s a dog-eat-dog world. You’ve got to be on your toes or you’ll end up on someone’s trophy room wall. In this jungle we call life, the ones who succeed are the shrewd, for they always are a jump ahead of the other guy.” This is the way of the world.
The way of God is something else altogether different. Did you know that hunger is a sign of health? When we are sick, we lose our appetite, so loss of appetite is a sign of one who is not well. We also know that we cannot survive without food. As for one who is full, he cannot be fed. He is satisfied.
Loss of spiritual appetite is a sign of one who is not spiritually well. Some people are “full” of the wrong things—idols, false gods, lust, greed, pride—these actually will not permanently satisfy them so they are still empty and hungry, but keep going after the wrong things. The story of the rich man who went away sorrowful, told in Luke 18, tells us that the young man went away with a sense of sorrow because he lacked a sense of God—he was satisfied with himself, but did not hunger for God. Thus, it is not he who thinks he has attained righteousness who is called blessed but the one who hungers and thirsts for it.
There is an intrinsic hunger for God. Each of us has a void that can only be filled by God, though many spend a lifetime filling it with other things. There is a sense of loneliness and homesickness for God’s kingdom, which is a natural desire, the desire for the kingdom, that some cover with other things. And no matter how confident or how successful we are, we all feel lonely at times. There are times when even if we are married, have friends, we still feel lonely, i.e. a patient in a hospital feels lonely; when I’m counseling someone, I feel lonely because there is no one immediately available to help; each of us has inward fears, fears we think are irrational, failures we are afraid to admit to others. This loneliness is not all bad, however. Sometimes loneliness and discontent (whether it be because of illness, fear, feeling overwhelmed) help us wake up to God.
Do we thirst for God, or for the things that are not of God? God thirsts for our repentance, our homecoming (like the Father of the Prodigal Son who was hoping for his lost son to return), but like the Prodigal Son, we must come to ourselves and thirst for our Father. We must steer away from the thirst for the false gods of money, pleasure, success, fame, popularity and other idols. That is not to say that these things are intrinsically bad. Success is a good thing. But we must thirst most of all for the things of God, over material things.
Hungering for righteousness is to be passionate about the things of God. It means that we are concerned with doing what is right in the eyes of God. Morality shifts from year to year—what was once wrong in the eyes of God and society, has now become acceptable in the eyes of society. But what once was immoral and now moral by societal stands is still wrong when measured against the righteousness of God. For though morality changes, righteousness does not. Therefore we must fill ourselves with prayer, the sacramental life (Fasting, Eucharist, confession), worship, and the reading of scripture, so that we can both grow our hunger for righteousness and know how to fill that hunger with things of God.
Lord thank You for making sure that my material needs for food and other essential things have been met. Help me to be hungry for righteousness. And help me to fill that hunger by ever striving to grow closer to You. Help me do what is right in Your eyes, to love You and to love my neighbor. Amen.
Seek righteousness today—focus on doing the things that please God!
With Roger Hunt providing today’s Daily Reading: Listen Now.
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