Jesus and the Pure in Heart

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.   (Matthew 5:8)

Being totally pure in heart is a pretty rare occurrence. Even our most generous gifts, heroic actions, and unselfish acts are often mingled with a desire to receive benefits in return. We give to an important cause because it’s the right thing to do and because we like the adulation we receive. We sacrifice our time for some worthwhile endeavor because we want to make a difference and because we like the influence we accrue.

The opposite of being pure in heart is the cynical phrase, “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.” Many are willing to do a lot of scratching because they like being scratched back.

This beatitude—Blessed are the pure in heart—demands strenuous self-examination. Doing so reveals that purity of heart can be fairly elusive. Even though our motives are mixed, that doesn’t mean we should ever stop trying to do the right thing. Doing the right thing is still the right thing, and doing the right thing can make us purer. Instead of purity of heart being an achievement, think about it as a process. The confluence of our will and God’s grace makes us more refined in the heart.

Having a pure heart is about integrity; it’s about aligning our behavior with our commitments; it’s about our words and actions being consistent with our faith. When we acknowledge that our motives can be mixed and when we admit that we sometimes have integrity gaps, we’re moving towards more purity of heart.

If we want to see more of God’s presence in our life, Jesus encourages us to become “pure in heart.” Although nobody in this life receives the total picture of God, we do get glimpses of God’s presence. The purer our heart is, the more our ability to see these glimpses will be sharpened. The purer our hearts are, the more we will see that grace is everywhere and that God’s blessings are without end.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What does Jesus’ phrase “pure in heart” mean to you?
  1. Have you ever had a moment—like I have—when you thought you were doing something with a completely pure heart, only to discover that your motives were mixed? If so, what did you do with that discovery?
  1. Jesus says that the “pure in heart” will see God. I would add that those with mixed hearts can also receive glimpses of God. What have your own glimpses of God revealed to you?

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