Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst?

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. ~ Mathew 5:6

Food prices have increased by 83% around the world in the past 12 months.

With the cost of food skyrocketing around the world, there are today millions of hungry people. Are they blessed?

With less than 2.5% of the world’s water in drinkable form (contain no salt) and corporations gobbling up those resources for profit as fast as they can, the number of thirsty people are growing each day. Are they blessed?

The immediate response of the United States to this hunger crisis has been $200 million in food aid. However, in the need for affordable food, $200 million provides no more than a snack.

Debnath Guharoy, in an article in The Jakarta Post entitled Global hunger, corporate greed: When will enough be enough? writes:

A kilogram of rice costs more than US$1 and a barrel of oil costs over $100. One influences the other. The subprime loan crisis will cost more than $1 trillion and the Iraq war will cost the United States alone as much as $3 trillion.

Different problem, same instinct. Many pundits will argue none of this has any connection to global hunger, as if these colossal costs aren't real and do not affect the common man.

… It seems as if the profit motive is no longer an adequate driver of business today. Unbridled greed has taken over, a global corporate culture spreading like a cancer unchecked.

Are these signs of being blessed? And what about this hunger and thirst for righteousness? Are only the righteous to be blessed?

In the ways of the ancient Hebrews, to be righteous means to be just—God’s concept of justice, not the human concept. In contemporary usage the word justice is used when referring to human rights, equality, the equitable distribution of the world’s resources, and the institutions that exist to uphold the law. But when Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount addresses righteousness and justice, he goes beyond the contemporary usage to a more comprehensive justice—a justice that has to do with harmonious relationships, with concord, with peace.

Hunger and thirst speak to us of the basic needs of each person. Justice, in the biblical sense of the word, means to live in conformity with the plan God has for creation, which is to be a family united in love. As with any family, when one is in need, all are in need.

My cupboard is filled with a month’s supply of food from NutriSystem.

My hunger needs are met for at least the coming month. But what about the needs of my sisters and brothers around the world?

There is a line in one of the Eucharistic prayers in the United Church of Christ Book of Worship:

We bless you for the beauty and bounty of the earth and for the vision of the day when sharing by all will mean scarcity for none.

I, among many others, take that line seriously. We believe that God’s creation can provide sufficiently for the needs of all people. We believe by removing the element of greed from humankind and by recognizing in each human being what he or she really is, our neighbor—our sister and brother—with his or her rights and basic equality with everyone else, that that vision of sharing by all will mean scarcity for none can be realized.

We believe that we must love our neighbors—even if they are our enemies—with the same love that the God has for them. We believe that we must be ready and willing to make sacrifices for them, even the greatest one: “To give one’s life for one’s friends.” This means to live with them in mutual giving, sharing our spiritual and material goods, so that all will become one family.

And we believe that we cannot simply stand by and watch the greed of corporations gobble up the necessities of life from our brothers and sisters. We cannot simply look for the vision of sharing by all will mean scarcity for none; we must actively join together to make it a reality. Then and only then our longing for a just and righteous world, as God has envisioned it, will become a reality.

I end this post with a song written and sung by Joe Wise. Please take a moment to click below and listen.

Shalom, my friends.


  1. excellent and thoughtful post.

    as always.

  2. Excellent and much needed words, Rev Saint. Now I remember that you used to end all of your worship services with the words “Shalom, my friends.” Most appropriate!

  3. Yeah, like there's enough food on earth for everyone, it just isn't getting where it needs to go.

    Greed. Stupidity. The bane of mankind's existence. And crazy stuff is happening, so to save money I've gone on a fruit and nut fast.

  4. Beautiful post. I admit to being overwhemed by it all, though. I work on simplicity, on my own selfishness and greed. But what else is one to do?

  5. It is overwhelming; and, one of the reasons I run around like an idiot screaming "NO!" to ethanol or other food-based fuels for our trips to the ballpark.

  6. ROBIN: Thank you.

    AZSONOFAGUN: Well, thank you, Rev. Rex! You remind me: some day soon I must do a blog post on the meaning of “shalom.”

    S E E QUINE: Yes, greed has been the curse on humankind since the beginning of the species. Perhaps if we could ever truly learn to share equally, justice and peace would finally be with us.

    TWYLA: You make an excellent point. How can one person do anything against the power of the multi-national corporations and the lure of greed? I discovered my answer many years ago while at seminary when I was trained to become a trainer in something called “Parenting for Peace and Justice.”

    What I leaned was:

    (1) I can teach my children about justice, about sharing our blessings with others.
    (2) I can speak out against injustice, singly and with others.
    (3) I can join in boycotts against companies that are exploitive of people and creation.
    (4) I can sign petitions and march in demonstration against oppressive corporations and nations.
    (5) I can stand in solidarity with the poor and the oppressed.
    (6) I can share.

  7. SAINTSEESTER: That running around and shouting “no” is another thing we can do!

  8. Well written, Nick. Thank you for the inspiration. I don’t think I’ve boycotted anything since joining Cesar Chavez in the grape boycott. I feel the urge to awaken my activism.

  9. Thanks for writing about this, Nick.

  10. Dear Nick ~~ Great post about the people who do not have the same chances as we do - to earn a living to buy food. It must be so hard for parents who see their children
    starving. Thanks for your visit to my blog. Take great care, Regards,

  11. there is a policy of paying farmers not to grow stuuf,and then there is the divert the food products for gas and other things.

  12. Great, Reverend T. Readi8ng this reminds me how much I miss your sermons.

  13. Many great and extremely important and worrying things ...

  14. “a global corporate culture spreading like a cancer unchecked.”

    That is the baseline of the world’s troubles. But what else can one expect when the government of the world’s most powerful nation panders to the ever increasing greed of businesses.

  15. You have written some significant ideas here.

  16. Le Deserteur
    "I am not on earth to kill miserable mankind."

    I don't remember hearing this song before. It's done beautifully, pulling at my heartstrings.


  17. very nice post nick... all the more reason to take nothing for granted.

  18. Indeed, Nick, as I think it was James said, faith needs to be accompanied by action.

  19. Nick, I really like this article, not only your words but the symbolism of the pictures with the kids with empty rice bowls at the beginning and the full bowl of rice at the end. Wonderful!

  20. It's a sad time in Human History, to be sure! ; (

    On all levels!

  21. every month when i pay for my groceries i think about the people that earn in a month what i spend on food alone. shocking how expensive food is.

  22. there have also been problems of hoarding of rice in warehouses hoping to capitalise on high prices. The restriction of supply is not just in the North (West) but also in the warehouses of the South.

    I'm not sure that all of the increase in food prices is due to biofuels. There have been crop failures as well.

    Greed fuels it, however, in the ways in which we are continuing to contribute to climate change (myself included) because the poorest of the poor, those who rely on agriculture both for subsistence crops and for their livelihood will be those that suffer the droughts and flooding that will force mass migration within poverty and war torn parts of the world.

    I'm afraid things are going to get worse.