‘Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God’
10th February 2022
‘Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God’.
(Gospel of Matthew Chapter 5, verse 8)
HOM: Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision
On a week on which we mark St. Valentine’s day, it seems apt to consider the beatitude in which we reflect on what it might mean to be pure in heart. No doubt the shops will be awash with hearts on cards, heart-shaped chocolate boxes, padded hearts clutched by cuddly teddy bears etc. This ubiquitous symbol of the heart stands for love, and on Valentine’s day a very particular kind of love – romantic love. So what is the story of St. Valentine?
He was officially recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church in the 3rd century. Although little is really known of his life, he is believed to have been a temple priest who was beheaded (martyred) near Rome by the emperor Claudius II for helping Christian couples to wed. This may account for why he has become associated with romantic love, although he is also patron saint of Terni (a city in Italy), epilepsy and beekeepers (!).
Saints by their nature are believed to be examples of people considered pure in heart. They are people who did not act with mixed motives (the original word for pure in Greek is katharos often associated with corn sorted from the chaff). This is something few of us achieve, for even in our best actions we may seek to gain something for ourselves, perhaps to be thought highly by others or a sense of self-satisfaction. In other words, there’s a personal pay-off. This beatitude is suggesting therefore, that we examine the motives for our actions and search our hearts to consider whether or not we are doing them for the right reasons. Having examined our motives and our hearts for their true intentions, only then will we see clearly what is truly good. And for the Christian that which is good is that which is God.
Saints traditionally are those who have lived transparently, whose lives are at one with the will of God. They are examples of the pure in heart who act without selfish motives or ambitions and their lives are lives through which the light of God might be glimpsed. And this reminds me of the story of a school child who when asked by a vicar ’what is a saint?’ said ‘Someone who the light shines through’ as they pointed to the stained glass window in the church. How right they were!