November 1999

Jesus begins his preaching with the Sermon on the Mount. On a broad low hill a few hundred yards from the Tiberias lakeside, near Capernum, Jesus sits down, as was customary for teachers, and proclaims to the crowds the person of beatitudes. The word “blessed”, that is, the exaltation of those who fulfilled the Word of the Lord in a variety of ways, resounded a number of times in the Hebrew Scriptures.
The beatitudes of Jesus were in part an echo of the ones the disciples already knew. For the first time, however, they were hearing that the pure of heart were not only worthy of going up the mountain of the Lord, as sung by the Psalm (cf. Psalm 24:4), but they could even see God. What sublime purity was this that could merit so much? Jesus would explain it several times during the course of his preaching. Let us try to follow him then so as to draw from the fount of authentic purity.

«Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.»

First of all, Jesus says that there is one supreme means of purification: “You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you” (Jn. 15:3). His Word, more than the practice of religious rites, purifies man’s inner self. The Word of Jesus is not like human words. Christ is present in his Word, as he is present, although in another way, in the Eucharist. Through his Word Christ enters within us and, provided we allow him to act, he makes us free from sin and therefore, pure of heart.
Thus, purity is the fruit of living the Word, all the Words of Jesus which free us from the so-called attachments, into which we inevitably fall if our heart is not in God and in his teachings. These could be attachments to things, people, ourselves. But if our heart is focused on God alone, all the rest falls away.
To achieve this, it can be useful to repeat throughout the day, to Jesus, to God, the invocation of a Psalm which says: “You, Lord, are my only good” (cf. Psalm 16:2)! Let us try to repeat it often, especially when the various attachments seek to pull our heart towards those images, sentiments and passions which can blur the vision of good and take away our freedom.
Are we inclined to look at certain advertising posters, to watch certain television programs? No, let’s repeat to him: “You, Lord, are my only good”. Re-declaring our love for God will be the first step towards going out of ourselves. And by doing so we will have gained in purity.
Do we sometimes feel that a person or an activity is coming between us and God, like an obstacle that mars our relationship with him? It is the moment to repeat: “You, Lord, are my only good.” This will help us to purify our intentions and regain inner freedom.

«Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.»

Living the Word makes us free and pure because it is love. The divine fire of love purifies our intentions and all our inner self, because the Bible considers the “heart” to be the deepest seat of intelligence and will.
But there is one love which Jesus commands us to practice and which enables us to live this beatitude. It is mutual love, being ready to give our life for others, following the example of Jesus. It creates a current, an exchange, an atmosphere whose dominant note is precisely that of transparency, purity, because of the presence of God, who alone can make us pure of heart. It is by living mutual love that the Word produces its effects of purification and sanctification.
As isolated individuals we are incapable of resisting at length the solicitations of the world. Instead, mutual love provides a healthy environment capable of protecting the whole of our authentic Christian existence, and in particular, our purity.

«Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.»

These then are the fruits of purity, constantly re-acquired: we can “see” God, that is, we can understand his action in our own life and in history; we can hear his voice in our heart; we can discern his presence in the poor, in the Eucharist, in his Word, in brotherly communion, in the Church.
It is a foretaste of the presence of God which already begins in this life, “for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7), but then “we will see face to face” (1 Cor. 13:12) for all eternity.

Chiara Lubich

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