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Father Muench Says...

The challenge to become pure of heart

October 8, 2014

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

You and I are still working our way through the Beatitudes: the path to happiness, given us by Jesus. 
We have seen five beatitudes and I assume you remember them all!

Now, we move along to the next beatitude – “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they will see God.”

“Pure of heart” would be to have a heart like that of Jesus.  Spiritually, we humans find the center of our emotions, even of our wisdom, in the heart, more than the mind.  We understand the heart of Jesus best in the New Testament. 

Recently, on a Sunday, we read from the Philippians, “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others.”

So, to be “pure of heart” demands that we truly eliminate selfishness from our own lives. 

We must learn to live in this spirit that St. Paul teaches with a heart free from all that leads us to be selfish.

“Pure of heart” calls for a life of superb innocence.  Here we are talking about a mature and bold innocence not a sort of naiveté.  We are talking about an innocence free of guile or cunning.  Guile leads to a life of deception, a life filled with lies – lies about ourselves, lies about others, lies even about God. Lies lead to unhappiness and the emptiness of dishonesty.  Only when we empty our lives of lies and guile will we truly be “pure of heart.”

All the beatitudes lead to happiness and so it is with this beatitude.  This “purity of heart” is a way to the happiness of peace and honesty, the happiness of being the kind of person who sees God.

For you see, when we truly are “pure of heart,” we will see God in all of creation.  The “pure of heart” believe in God as creator, creator of all that is.  So, they see God as present in all creation.  All that is is sacred and holy and thus we can see God in all creation.

The “pure of heart” will see God in others, especially in those who are in need.  Jesus reminds us in his talk on “the acts of mercy” that whatever we do for others – even the least of our brothers and sisters – we should see in them Our Lord, Jesus.  So, when we are open and ready to help others, we will Jesus in them. We will see God in them.

The “pure of heart” will see God in themselves, recognizing that Jesus truly humbled himself and became one of us. He came to live with us as a human, to die for us and then rise to new life.  So, our humanity is sacred; Jesus was once of us. Those who are “pure of heart” will always recognize the presence of God in their lives.  Truly they will see God in all they do.

The “pure of heart” will see God in the Blessed Eucharist, the magnificent sacrament given to us all by Jesus. Jesus made certain that he would be present always in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.  It is such an important part of our Catholic Faith that Jesus is truly present, body and soul, in this Sacrament.  Those who are truly “pure of heart” do indeed see God in this Sacrament.

So, our challenge as followers of Jesus Christ and searchers for the happiness promised by Jesus is to truly pray and live well that we can more and more become the “pure of heart.”  

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