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'We Should Be Lovers'
By Chris Sparks (Dec 18, 2014)
The following is the sixth of an eight-part Advent series on the Beatitudes, which are found in the opening section of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. The Church considers the Beatitudes the very heart of Jesus' preaching.
"Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God" (Mt 5:8).
When I hear about cleanliness or purity of heart, my mind immediately goes to the virtue of chastity, of a mind unpolluted by lustful images and a libido that's firmly under a person's control. There's a reason for that: this beatitude is all about loving rightly, undividedly, faithfully. But the sort of chastity being called for here is much greater, all-encompassing. It's the chastity of a heart that isn't given over to idolatry.
Throughout the Old Testament, Israel's bad habit of worshipping strange gods and violating their covenants with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is compared over and over again to the wanton infidelity of a prostitute or an adulterer. Israel is called back by prophet after prophet to fidelity to God their Bridegroom, their Lover, their Spouse, called again to purity or cleanliness of heart. Their love is to be undivided, all for God. Once they love God rightly by obeying His law, and obey the law because they love Him (see Jn 14:15, 23), then they will see God.
And so all of the Old Testament builds from Genesis — where God walked in the garden in the cool of the evening with Adam and Eve before the first fall of humanity — through countless falls and infidelities by humanity, even as God is ever faithful, to the climax of the Old Testament religion: the Maccabean martyrs and a newly faithful generation of Israelites (see 2 Macc 7), holding fast to their faith in their God through all persecution, exile, and trial, knowing now that their God is almighty, the God of all nations, whether other nations recognize Him or not. When this fidelity is manifest in Israel, then they see God face to face when Jesus comes.
And that fidelity is lived best by the Blessed Virgin Mary and her most chaste spouse Joseph, the Just Man. They are pure of heart as no others, and they are the first to see God, to behold Him face to face — as a Baby, as their Son.
So this beatitude promises happiness to those who love God faithfully, fully, according to the grace they are given, "with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Mt 22:37). Why? Because they shall see God, and know Him, the One who is the source of all that is good and also Goodness Himself — indeed, God alone is good (see Mk 10:18). In Him is the fullness of Goodness, and Beauty, and Truth, and Love. In Him, we find perfect happiness, for as St. Augustine said, "You have made us for Yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in You" (Catechism, 30).
And when we love Him as we ought, with all the power of the Holy Spirit elevating our natural love, then are we set aflame. As St. Clare reportedly said, "We become what we love and who we love shapes what we become. If we love things, we become a thing. If we love nothing, we become nothing. Imitation is not a literal mimicking of Christ; rather, it means becoming the image of the beloved, an image disclosed through transformation. This means we are to become vessels of God's compassionate love for others."
Jesus reaffirmed that teaching when He said to St. Faustina, "I am Love and Mercy itself. When a soul approaches Me with trust, I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but radiates them to other souls" (Diary, 1074).
So love God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and you shall behold the One you love — and it shall be the greatest joy.
• Part One: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
• Part Two: "Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted."
• Part Three: "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land."
• Part Four: "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied."
• Part Five: "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."
• Part Six: "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God."
• Part Seven: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."
• Part Eight: "Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."