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Blessed are the 
pure in heart...

A pure heart create for me, O God,” the psalmist cries. In addition to this, Jesus teaches us that the pure in heart are blessed. The pure in heart are those who do not live by mixed motives and who can relate to God and neighbour simply in love.

In practice, most of us live with mixed motivation. We teach our children to be good—but perhaps part of the reason is that we do not want our children to embarrass us.

We love our spouses—but perhaps part of the reason is because we ourselves gain from this relationship when our beloved meets our needs for companionship, sex or self-esteem.

We are kind to our neighbour—but perhaps part of the reason is because we want our neighbour to be kind to us, too. It is not unusual to have mixed motives.

Jesus shows us the way to gradually purify our hearts and gradually let go of all self-seeking ways. Gradually, we can teach our children to be good, simply because goodness is good.

Gradually we can learn to love our spouses—simply because love is the way God relates to us.

Gradually we can learn to be kind to our neighbour—simply because virtue is its own reward.

Jesus shows us that the way to purification of our hearts is to let go of our love of self and to let go of all self-seeking.

We accept whatever joys and pains come our way, even the worst of suffering. How Jesus did this is clear: he constantly renewed his relationship of love with the Father and lived life in the Spirit.

When Jesus recognised that his fame had spread from the Jewish people to outsiders (the Greeks in today’s gospel reading), he knew that he could detach himself from any desire for fame or renown.

He knew that his glory did not come in being famous among people, but in being willing to lay down even his life to do the Father’s will. Surely Jesus had to face the reality of human pain. He was a human being. He suffered, as we all suffer.

But Jesus was able to let go of his own natural desire to be free of pain and to accept whatever the Father allowed. The world taught Jesus (as it teaches us) to take care of ourselves first. But Jesus teaches us to be willing to let go and to live purely in love.

Jesus uses some contrasting language to help us to understand this: if we love our lives, we will lose our lives.

Yet, if we can put aside our desire to live in this world, we can save our lives forever. The language can be puzzling, almost like the language of Zen, but the key to the puzzle is to live in purity of heart.

We find true glory by being able to leave selfish motives behind us. We find eternal life by purifying our hearts of motivations which stem from fear, or pride, or enthusiasm, or comfort, or whatever human traits tie us down.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!”