Questions 174:

What does Jesus mean with the statement: „Blessed are the pure in heart: they shall see God”. (Matthew 5, 8)?


Answer: Purity of heart contrasts with purity as a ritual status, which – according to the prescriptions of the Book Leviticus – is brought about by ritual cleaning. This is an ever recurring contentious issue between Jesus and the Pharisees. What Jesus has in mind he makes clear in Matthew 15, 10-20:

“He [Jesus] called the people to him and said: Listen and understand. What goes into the mouth does not make anyone unclean; it is what comes out of the mouth that makes someone unclean.

Then the disciples came to him and said: Do you know that the Pharisees were shocked when they heard what you said? He replied: Any plant my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots. Leave them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind; and if one blind person leads another, both will fall into the pit.

At this, Peter said to him, Explain the parable for us. Jesus replied, Even you – don’t you yet understand? Can’t you see that whatever goes into the mouth passes through the stomach and is discharged into the sewer? But whatever comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, and this is that makes someone unclean. For from the heart come evil intentions: Murder, adultery, fornication, theft, perjury, slander. These are the things that make a person unclean. But eating with unwashed hands does not make anyone unclean.”

Purity of heart manifests itself above all in the way a person speaks, because in the words of a person his or her thought as well as the desires of the heart become manifest. The fruit of the purity of heart is the vision of God, i.e. the being admitted into the presence of God (see Matthew 18, 10). In the language of the Old Testament the members of the royal court are those, who see the face of the King.

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