Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God (Matt. 5:8)…
Who shall see God? The question wasn’t a new one. In a moment of praise and celebration, David passionately considered it, “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place?” (Ps. 24:3) The answer wasn’t new either. It wasn’t the man who has lofty desires. Not he who has ethical intentions and high aspirations. Not him who is consumed with doctrine. Not the one whose morals and convictions seem unshakeable. Not him who goes out to ‘save the world!’ But, “he who has clean hands and a pure heart (24:4),” “the generation of those who seek him (24:6).”
Jesus echoes the same truth in this beatitude, yet he, for some reason, makes no mention of the clean hands. It may be that he wished to distinguish inner purity from all types of outward purity. The heart was his aim, as it is throughout the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus may be telling his followers that he does not simply want a better version of who they currently are. He’s not concerned here with collard shirts, clean-cut hair-dos, and distaste for Joel Olsteen’s teaching. He wants a completely new man! Only the wholly transformed will see God. Only the pure in heart will walk along the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, to the throne of grace.
But, what exactly does it mean to have a pure heart? Who is pure in heart? It is only him whose whole life is submitted to the will of Jesus, belonging exclusively to Him and looking exclusively to Him. It is the individuals “whose hearts are undefiled by their own evil – and by their own virtue too…they are wholly absorbed by the contemplation of God. They shall see God, whose hearts have become a reflection of the image of Jesus Christ” (Cost of Discipleship, 112).
Father, may we have hearts untainted by our evil and our virtue alike. Rid us of ourselves and place us at the feet of Christ all our days. Amen.