Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see the face of God.” (Mt. 5:8)
What does it mean to be pure in heart? Is it to be holy as God is holy, to seek to do what is right and be righteous? Is it to seek the truth in all things? Is to strive not to sin, though the Bible says we are all sinners? Is it to be like Jesus?
Thomas A Kempis in his book, The Imitation of Christ, 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.” (Luke 17:21) When Phillip asked Jesus to show the disciples the Father, Jesus said, “Don’t you know me, Phillip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
The psalmist says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit with me.” (Psalm 51:10)
Mother Theresa said she saw the face of Jesus in the poor and dying which she served in Calcutta.
Over the last few years I have had the privilege of serving on the Board of Porto Charities, an organization that raises funds to support children with intellectual and developmental disabilities through 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 many 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.
How can each of us seek greater purity of heart?