By NEMS Daily Journal
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” – Matthew 5:8
“Pure in heart?”
As members of modern Western civilization, we struggle to envision some of the characteristics that Jesus beatified in the early part of the “Sermon on the Mount.”
“Poor in spirit” we see every day among the homeless, the old, the disabled and the literal poor, but it’s not easily duplicated by those with jobs, homes, money and status.
“Meek” is challenging, too, but it shows itself in a few quiet folks.
It’s hard to wrap our minds around those who “hunger and thirst after righteousness.” Practically everybody has a different definition of righteousness, and even then for most of us an intense desire for it comes only in short bursts.
The merciful are easier to envision, as we see medical personnel, soup-kitchen volunteers and a host of others working to relieve the suffering around them – even if mercy is a hard characteristic to exercise consistently.
But “pure in heart?”
Oh, we’re pure on the outside, maybe, if one doesn’t look too closely. We pay our taxes and volunteer at church and refrain from violence, even for those who need the lesson it might provide. But we envy our sister’s house and resent our co-worker’s promotion and secretly despise those who disagree with us on politics and religion.
Even mother love – often represented as the purest of all human devotions – can go terribly awry: Recall stories about women sabotaging their daughters’ cheerleading rivals or statistics about those who condemn their children to poverty by not providing them a committed father.
Judeo-Christian scripture gives hints of the source of a pure heart. It is connected with (metaphorically) clean hands, gracious speech, love, a good conscience and faith.
Ultimately, though, scripture tells us we cannot generate a pure heart for ourselves. Proverbs 20:9 laments, “Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin’?”
In the end, believers are left with the reality that being pure in heart is impossible, humanly speaking.
Caught in dire sin and desiring a restoration to purity, King David of Israel noted that Divinity alone can work such a miracle.
In Psalm 51:10, he begs: “Create in me a pure heart, O God.”
Today, that realization echoes in Christianity’s tenet, “Solo Deo”: “God Alone.”