Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God
Most of us would instinctively associate purity of heart with chastity. But Jesus had a much wider understanding of purity when he refers it to the heart. For the Bible, the heart is the centre of our being, where our emotions and desires dwell.
Living in a society that was obsessed with the rigorous observance of an unending series of external laws and regulations, Jesus preached something totally different: a morality of the heart. ‘Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also‘, he insisted. Once you found the treasure you will be ready to sell everything you have in order to obtain it.
Woe to you, hypocrites
This explains the unusual force of Jesus’ words against those he considered hypocrites, whose actions did not mirror what lay in their hearts: ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!’, he thundered, ‘for you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness‘.
For the ritual laws in the time of Jesus certain kinds of food would make a person unclean or impure. Yet Jesus disagrees, insisting that what makes us unclean is not what comes from the outside but what lies in our hearts, which then finds expression in our actions. He encourages us to do everything with a pure intention, and our Father, who sees what lies in the secret of our hearts, will reward us.
That is why Jesus is blessing those whose heart is pure, transparent, not muddied by hidden agendas or motivations. The heart’s first commandment, the only one, is love.
They shall see God
We all know this is a never ending struggle. We need to work hard to control the Pharisee who lurks in our hearts, making us feel superior to others, while sowing seeds of pride or self-doubt. We need to keep a constant look out on our hearts to ensure they remain pure, and that our actions express what really lies in our hearts.
Our God is love, so he can only be seen by loving hearts, by those whose intentions are pure and selfless.
Create in my a pure heart, O God, and make my heart like unto yours.
Today’s audiovisual aid is a very simple ‘home video’ that captures, in a really every-day way, the essence of what it means to be pure of heart: