Grace to you!
While stressing the entire message of the Sermon on the Mount, I have been reflecting on each of the eight Beatitudes. If followed chronologically, today should be on the 4th Beatitude. It is "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied" (Mt 5:6).
However, I would prefer to skip this for another day, and talk about the sixth Beatitude, which is "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Mt 5:8)
If you are Catholic and you went to Mass yesterday, you may have observed that the Gospel passage is from Matthew 5: 27-32. Remember, this falls under the entire Sermon on the Mount, which stretches from Matthew chapter 5 to chapter 7:29. The central message of the Gospel was on sexual purity. Hence, I want to shed some light on the blessings of being pure.
A devout woman once asked me what the pure in heart meant. For many, it has to do with being sexually pure, namely, not practicing any form of illicit sex or other forms of what we know in Catholic, Christian morality as impure acts such as lusting, immodest touches or romances, and self-gratification of a sexual kind.
I include here the perversion through pornography, which is ravaging our society today. All illicit sexual acts are considered impure for sure. Those acts do not glorify God, neither in our bodies—the temple of the Holy Spirit—nor in our relationships. They are sinful, and we ask for the grace to overcome them and become morally pure.
However, the purity of heart, which The Beatitudes refer to, is more encompassing. Though moral purity is an aspect of it, it extends beyond this.
To understand this purity, consider the promised condition of blessing the Lord Jesus offered: "They shall see God." God is pure, and nothing impure sees God.
Compare a brand new white piece of clothing that has never been used or washed with one of the same kind that has been used and washed. Place them side by side with each other. Yes, they are of the same color, material, and texture. Yet the contrast between the one that has been used and washed and the one which is new will speak volumes.
The purity of heart is the condition of a person whose heart or soul is clean from the contamination of the dirt of worldliness. One could say such a heart is closer to the pristine state, which God wills for us, a state of grace. It is single-minded. Guilt isn't in that heart. It's like the heart of a child.
Many things can dull the whiteness, purity of our hearts. Prominent among them are all forms of unholy attachments to things (tangible and intangible), power, fame, and persons. Those attachments stick, making the once pure heart contaminated. Those draw us away from spiritual purity of purpose and heart. It could also be an attachment to our achievements in such a way they assume false god status in our hearts, constituting spiritual dirt.
Similarly, is being driven by self-absorption or the ego in our relationships and dealings with others in such a way we allow the mud of selfishness to fester in our heart. The result is that it becomes difficult for us to see God. We are unable to feel God around us, to perceive him in nature, to identify him in worship, and to see him in our neighbor.
Even in our relationships, the result is a manipulation of others, using them as tools for our self-gratification. Making it all about "me" and not about "we." Thus, we only see ourselves, even if God's beautiful face were to glare right at us.
The opposite is the case when the heart is closer to purity. Purity cleans the dirt, so we can readily see, touch, and perceive God's sweet aroma everywhere, every time, and, fascinatingly, during prayers—private and public.
When people use others or lust after others, isn't it, in part, because they have allowed the dirt to build up in their hearts? Gradually, more and more, God seems distant, does he not? We see less of the purity of the pure beauty and love of the other person, and more of the momentary gratification we may get by satisfying our immediate needs.
I pray we don't get mired in a situation of spiritual dirt and consequent blurriness. Amen. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Saturday, Week 10: Acts 11:21b-2b; 13:1-3; Matthew 5:33-37]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.