At Matthew 5:6 (RSVCE), Jesus says: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

The concept of physical hunger and thirst, as we understand today, appears to be far different from that the people of Jesus' time had. If it was spiritual hunger and thirst the Jesus was in deed referring to, the attributes would have been similar. I hope that the Church has explained at length, the deeper meaning of hunger and thirst, as would have been in the mind of Jesus when He spoke on the Mount. I wish to know what the official interpretation of Matthew 6:5 in the specific context of day-to-day life of the time of Jesus, and offered by the Catholic Church is.

1 Answer 1


The Catholic Haydock Commentary says this about Mt. 5:6:

Ver. 6. Hunger and thirst; i.e. spiritually, with an earnest desire of being just and holy. But others again understand such as endure with patience the hardships of hunger and thirst. (Witham) --- Rupertus understands those to whom justice is denied, such as poor widows and orphans. Maldonatus those who from poverty really suffer hunger and thirst, because justice is not done them. (Menochius) --- They shall be filled with every kind of good in their heavenly country. I shall be filled when thy glory shall appear. (Psalm xvi.)

St. Thomas Aquinas's collection of the snippets from Church Fathers' Scriptural commentary, Catena Aurea (Golden Chain) c. 5 l. 4, says this about Mt. 5:6:

St. Ambrose: As soon as I have wept for my sins, I begin to hunger and thirst after righteousness. He who is afficted with any sort disease, hath ho hunger.

St. Jerome: It is not enough that we desire righteousness, unless we also suffer hunger for it, by which expression we may understand that we are never righteous enough, but always hunger after works of righteousness.

Pseudo-Chrysostom: All good which men do not from love of the good itself is unpleasing before God. He hungers after righteousness who desires to walk according to the righteousness of God; he thirsts after righteousness who desires to get the knowledge thereof.

St. Chrysostom: He may mean either general righteousness, or that particular virtue which is the opposite of covetousness. As He was going on to speak of mercy, He shews before hand of what kind our mercy should be, that it should not be of the gains of plunder or covetousness, hence He ascribes to righteousness that which is peculiar to avarice, namely, to hunger and thirst.

St. Hilary: The blessedness which He appropriates to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness shews that the deep longing of the saints for the doctrine of God shall receive perfect replenishment in heaven; then "they shall be filled."

Pseudo-Chrysostom: Such is the bounty of a rewarding God, that His gifts are greater than the desires of the saints.

St. Augustine: Or He speaks of food with which they shall be filled at this present; to wit, that food of which the Lord spake, "My food is to do the will of my Father," that is, righteousness, and that water of which whoever drinks it shall be in him "a well of water springing up to life eternal."

St. Chrys.: Or, this is again a promise of a temporal reward; for as covetousness is thought to make many rich, He affirms on the contrary that righteousness rather makes rich, for He who loves righteousness possesses all things in safety.

  • I am expecting a more down-to-earth interpretation. The terms can be easily understood by a traveller who runs short of water and food. With no `filling stations' in sight, he knocks at the door of the first house he sees on the roadside, and pleads for food and water. May be Jesus meant that one should go to the extend of subduing oneself in order to get justice for one's neighbour. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 5:18
  • @KadalikattJosephSibichan I am expecting a more down-to-earth interpretation. You're dealing with a) Religion b) Scripture c) Interpretation of Scripture d) the Roman Catholic Church. Consider that the Roman Catholic Church does not cherry pick a particular verse and assign a meaning to it, although the sources Geremia cites seems to have done their best to bring understanding of that part of the Word. Aquinas, a Doctor of the Church (few in number are they) provides insights on what some of the most dedicated among the Faithful have discerned the Word as meaning. A good answer, it is. Commented Aug 18, 2016 at 21:00
  • Shalom. I stand corrected. Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 8:08

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