“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” Purity is holiness, untainted by any human impulse, unblemished by sin. Jesus is talking about the releasing of all that stands between us and God in this Beatitude. And when we have released all that separates us from God, we will see God.
The heart is the seat of our being, of our will, the producer of our thoughts, the arbiter of all that we are to the world. If the heart is at peace, there is no anxiety or fear in us. When the heart is at peace, there is complete trust in God. So, if our hearts are at peace, then so are our thoughts, our deeds, our expressions, our thoughts about other people, There is no sin within us, no judgment, no greed, no envy, no defensiveness, no harm to another person. We walk in holiness.
Now contrast holiness what Jesus says to the leaders of the Jews:. “Woe to you, Teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.” Jesus is underlining the difference between the piety the Pharisees show on the outside with the greed and self-indulgence on the inside. No integrity there. In the same way we can try to look “good” to other people, but our motivations are not of love and gentleness, our judgments are harsh and blaming. We rarely fool other people because they can sense the dichotomy in us.
In the same passage He offered another indictment of the difference between their behavior and their interior state of being: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.”
The pure in heart embrace all that God desires. “Being pure in heart involves having a singleness of heart toward God. A pure heart has no hypocrisy, no guile, no hidden motives. The pure heart is marked by transparency and an uncompromising desire to please God in all things. It is more than an external purity of behavior; it is an internal purity of soul.” The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Bourgeault would agree: “purity means singleness, and the proper translation of this beatitude is, really, ‘Blessed are those whose heart is not divided’ or ‘whose heart is a unified whole. No other loyalties, no other values, no other preoccupations, nothing but a focus on God.
When we turn to the original Aramaic words we find that 1)“Dadkeyn refers to those who are ‘consistent’ in love or sympathy, those who have both a natural sense of influence and abundance and a fixed, electrifying purpose. The old roots call up the image of a flower blossoming because that is its nature. 2)The word translated as heart(lebhon) also carries the sense of any center from which life radiates—a sense of expansion plus generative power: vitality, desire, affection, courage, and audacity all rolled into one…3)[the word nehzun could be translated ‘see,’ but also points to inner vision or contemplation. The old roots evoke the image of a flash of lightning that appears suddenly in the sky; insight comes like that.” 
To be “pure in heart” is a huge challenge for us and one that we cannot attain on our own. It is only by putting our whole selves, our guilt and pain, and our sin in God’s hands that it can happen at all. But then, not only do we see God, we see as God sees and hear as He hears. Our perspective is no longer limited by any world views on life, it is as expansive and connected as God’s is. We “walk forth” in blessings, as we are the pure in heart.
Questions to ponder over the week: How purely do I see and think and act? Am I growing in wisdom and the ability to think more and more broadly as God does? Am I less judgmental than I used to be? Less condemning of others? Do I see myself clearly, as I really am, not how I’d like to be? Can I see Jesus in other people? Can I respond to them as I would respond to Jesus?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who see and think and act as He has guided us to do. May we be open-hearted and welcoming to all. May we walk in holiness.
An Invitation to All of Us to Pray for our nation: for mercy and compassion for all, for community values and a deep sense of caring for each other. For peace. For love to reign. For a return to a love of God. For us to be “one nation under God” to be our motto again. If many of us would pray these things for our country, we could change the world. Invite your friends and neighbors to pray with us. in love and faith, Pat
Check out the archives for By the Waters on this page, organized by dates and by topics.
 Matthew 5:8
 Matthew 23:25-26
 Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus Transforming Heart and Mind—a New Perspective on Christ and His Message, Shambhala, Boston, 2008, p.46
 Neil Douglas-Klotz, Prayers of the Cosmos: Reflections on the Original Meaning of Jesus’s Words, HarperOne, New York, p. 62