“Blessed are the pure of heart…” What does it mean to be pure of heart? It is something that is not given, but something that is struggled for over a lifetime. Because we are fallen, we often take two strides forward and fall back one as we learn to practice and live the virtues that will make us pure at heart. But it is our direction, our attitude, and our effort that makes all the difference. God is always with us in this noble effort.
To be pure of heart is to have attuned one’s mind and one’s will to the will of God. It is to have understood the liberating power of God’s commandments and to choose more and more often to obey those commands, humbly and willingly. A pure heart is moved to charity toward all, no matter their status, or their conditions in life. It is a heart that is self-disciplined, able to restrain the sexual passions. Purity of heart is also recognizable in one’s love for truth and in one’s living, committed practice of one’s faith. Indeed there is a connection between the purity of heart, and that of the body, and that of one’s practice of the Christian faith as it was given to us by Christ, through the Holy Spirit and the Apostles. If we understand Jesus properly here, then, we see that purity of heart is a prerequisite for “seeing God” in the face.
For the Jewish people purity of heart was necessary for participation in the Temple worship. This being with God in the Temple is described in Psalm 42:2 as “beholding his face.” But here Jesus is saying that the promise of having a clean, or pure heart, is that one will see God, not in the Temple, but in the very Kingdom of God at the Last Day, and forever. Is this not a Christian’s deepest desire, to be in the actual, Real Presence of God, forever?
Jesus is telling us how this can be possible for us. We must develop a purity of heart. Believing in Jesus Christ, we must develop the habits of virtue. We must follow the commandments of God more and more, until our willing obedience becomes our natural habit in all things. How do we do this? We must pray privately and in community with the Church regularly. We must study and meditate on God’s commandments and teachings in the scriptures. Then, with humility and faith in God’s grace and mercy, we must practice his way in our daily lives. With this attitude, we are assured of two things: First, God will be with us, and second, if we attain the reality of a pure heart, we will see God in the face in his kingdom, forevermore. Glory be to God!
Lord, we love you and desire to do your will in all things. Give us the graces we need to continue to grow in purity of heart, so that we may come to know you, to love you, and to joyfully serve you in this life and be with you in the next. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen!
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