Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Dunno. It sounds like a strange promise. What would you give up if all you were promised was to get a good look at God? Would you give up your reputation? Would you give up your job? Would you give up financial security?
Before you answer those questions though, maybe it would be helpful to start with this question. What does it mean to see God? Because if you and I are anything alike, it’s likely you haven’t spent too much time in the last week dreaming of this day.
The odds are that in the past week, you have been thinking about your job. You have been conscious of the way you are being perceived by your peers. You have been working and reworking your budget, just to make sure you stay on track.
That’s what you’ve been doing if you and I are anything alike, anyway.
This promise, it should also be noted, comes from the same man who went out of his way to point out that “no one has seen God.” Even if you had some perception of what this promise means, you have, according to Jesus, no category under which to file it. And yet the allure of this promise is undeniable. Even though you don’t know what it means to see God, still everybody wants a good look at him, from the suffering Jobs to the skeptical Hitchens to the saintly Mother Teresas.
Something essential to our humanity cries out to see God, whether our minds dismiss his existence or his very words shape our lives. We all long to see him. Yet we can’t possibly have the slightest idea of what that might mean. The closest we can get at what that might mean is the Apostles Paul and John comparing the experience to the sun at noon.
And so this promise, the one that we rarely imagine and simultaneously long for, is given to the community of the blessed. In this case, the pure in heart are highlighted. In our words, we might call these people simply honest. These are the people who are exactly they present themselves to be. Their PR department is small and takes long lunch breaks. They are in touch with and are following their passion. They see their blessing as a gift to give away, and not to hoard. They do not manipulate to get what they want and they do not step on others to get ahead.
You might think that it would be blessing enough to simply live with this presence, unburdened by the weight of trying to be somebody you aren’t, but this is the playful promise of the Master. Not only will these people live with a much lighter burden, but they will, perhaps precisely because of their clear mind and simple heart, have the added blessing of seeing God.
This blessing is closer to us than we might have imagined.