How does this happen?
Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see the face of God.” (Mt. 5:8) However, when Moses asked God to show him his glory, God said, “I will cause my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord in your presence…But you cannot see my face, for no one may see my face and live.” (Ex.33:19-20) Yet, when Phillip asked Jesus to show the disciples the Father, Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
What does it mean to be pure in heart? Is it to be holy as God is holy, to seek the truth in all things, to seek to do what is right and be righteous, to seek not to sin, though the Bible says we are all sinners? Is it to be like Jesus?
Thomas A Kempis wrote a book entitled, The Imitation of Christ, in which he offers over 250 pages of counsel and meditations on growing in the presence and likeness of Christ.
St. Gregory of Nyssa said, “When the mist of sin no longer clouds the eye of your soul, you see the blessed vision clearly in the peace and purity of your own heart.” Jesus seems to confirm this when he says the kingdom of God is within you. He also says that what determines whether a person is clean is not what goes into his mouth, but what comes out of his mouth, “for the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart.” (Luke 17:21; Mt. 15:11)
The psalmist says, “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.” (Psalm24:3-4)
Mother Theresa said she saw the face of Jesus in the poor and dying that her homes served in Calcutta.
In the last few years I have had the privilege of serving on the Board of an organization that raises funds to support children with developmental disabilities and the establishment of special education programs in the Catholic schools of the Diocese of Arlington. Among the characteristics common to these children are joy, simplicity and purity of heart. Whenever I look at their big beautiful smiles, I see the face of God.
In most of these programs, the schools invite students from the general student body to serve as peer mentors to the students with disabilities. Many of these peer mentors speak of the blessings that flow from their association with the students with special needs. It seems that their joy and purity of heart have inspired several peer mentors to take up careers in special education.
Would that we all exhibit similar joy and purity of heart, so that we might inspire others to serve the needs of God’s creation and kingdom.
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit with me.” (Psalm 51:10)