Over the last few weeks I’ve written about the Beatitudes each as a rung on the ladder which takes us up to the highest expression of human beings in their love of God. Today, we’re looking at the sixth Beatitude, Blessed are the pure in heart. It would be easy for us to think that being pure in heart is being perfect in our lives as we follow Jesus. But the Bible is very clear that there are no perfect human beings, only those who are determined to follow Jesus with everything that is in them.
To be pure in heart does not mean to be a letter of the law person, but to be expressing all that we have learned with each rung on the ladder:
that we need God and can depend on Him,
that we need to mourn our losses and our sufferings so that we can be present to God,
that we need to be humble so that we see all people as our brothers and sisters,
that we need to hunger and thirst for righteousness, for God’s agenda above all others,
that we need to be merciful, compassionate and loving towards everyone,
and now, that we need to be pure of heart.
The pure in heart are no longer split in what they say aloud as compared to the opinions they hold in their minds and hearts. Much has been healed in them as they have turned their lives over to God and prayed for His help in learning how to love and cherish all human beings. They are now able to love their neighbors(former enemies, foreigners, families, other races) without guile or covering their true feelings, for God has healed so much in them. And only God can do that—we humans are way too close to our primary subject—ourselves—to see clearly what we need to do to be healed of our egocentricity.
Hear how Jacques Philippe who authored the book, The Eight Doors of the Beatitudes, describes the pure in heart:
Purity of heart illuminates life, and transforms one’s way of thinking. Purity and impurity are not in things, but in one’s way of seeing them. A beautiful promise accompanies purity: God himself. And not only will the pure of heart see him some day in paradise—a vision that will fill them with happiness—but here and now, in the recognition of God’s action in their lives.
Philippe goes on to describe other qualities that are linked to the pure in heart in the Old Testament: uprightness—rectitude and sincerity, simplicity, and unity. It is easy to see these qualities in Moses, in Paul, and in many of the saints of the church. Their dedication to leading the life God has called them to is evident in all that they do. I take heart from Paul who so describes what it means to be a human being, dedicated to God and, yet, not perfect. He describes his weakness, his tendency to “not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
If Paul, who so dedicated His life to Christ after his encounter with the resurrected Jesus, can still have human failings, well, then, I can certainly forgive myself for all my failings, too. We learn that on the fifth rung of the ladder, to be merciful, compassionate, forgiving, even towards ourselves. And look at what Paul was to suffer for his dedication—beatings, shipwreck, imprisonment and more. And yet he never wavered from his devotion to Christ.
The pure in heart are free, rid of so much human preoccupation and cultural conditioning and their own personal self-image, that they no longer project anything onto anyone else. They see the other person, each one they encounter, no matter their race, or education or profession or anything else, with love and compassionate, they see them as God sees them, warts and all, and yet loves them fully and completely. And doesn’t that register with the one before them as love and embrace, as befitting Jesus Christ himself? What a gift to experience God’s love in and through another person.
Here is how Jim Forest, author of The Ladder of the Beatitudes, describes the pure in heart: “What is a pure heart? A heart free of possessiveness, a heart capable of mourning, a heart that thirsts for what is right, a merciful heart, a loving heart, an undivided heart.” An undivided heart—what a gift to be able to be totally dedicated to God in all that we do! So much healing has happened in us, so much determination expressed for God’s will for us, so much love of God is activated in us!
And the pure in heart shall see God! To have the awareness of all that God is in our lives, to see all that He does for us and for others, to live in gratitude for everything that we are and all that we have—that is an almost total transformation of who we are and who we have been in our lives. Thanks be to God!
Questions to ponder over the week: Do I have integrity—is what I say equal to what I am feeling? Am I truthful, and free of my egocentricity, my way or the highway? Am I passing on God’s love to everyone I encounter? Is my heart free of judgment, self-preoccupation, fear and anger, guilt and shame?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who are free of judgment, denigration and polarization. May we bring God’s love to everyone we meet.
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 Jim Forest, The Ladder of the Beatitudes,
 Philippe, p. 167-8
 Ibid, pp. 169-170.
 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10
 Romans ?:15-16
 Jim Forest, p. 89