A Short Meditation on the Beatitude of Matthew 5:8
The Beatitude that is to be discussed in this essay is found in Matthew 5:8:
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”.
This verse, like all verses in sacred scripture, can be subject to multitudinous interpretations, each applying to a different “realm” of sorts. On one level, this verse can be defined as: “The one who keeps God as the center of their life sees God in all his creation and sees other people as children of God before anything else.” This speaks to a more social level of the verse and on a level that deals directly with how we should act regarding our human brethren and the world. To have God at the center of your life means that everything you do comes from him, your words, actions, and thoughts flow from him. This touches on a more esoteric or allegorical interpretation and is key to understand this deeper meaning. In fact, a way of formulating this parable in a way that more explicitly details this ‘esoteric’ meaning would be:
“Blessed are those who have completed the Great Work, and have become reborn in Christ, for theirs is the Beatific Vision.”
In this formulation, we see two elements more allegorically and mystically developed. Being pure in heart translates to “the completion of the Great Work and being reborn in Christ”. This just expands the nature of what it means to be “pure in heart” (In one of its many facets. This verse, like every verse, is subject to application on numerous levels and sometimes with seemingly contradictory meanings, though they are not truly contradictory when viewed from ‘above’.). Being ‘pure’ in heart implies a purification process, this is what is called the ‘Great Work’. It refers to the process by which we as Christians follow the ‘Royal Road of Christ’, the end goal of which is the birth of Jesus within our very soul and our ‘death’ and resurrection in Christ into spiritual life. In the latter half of the more ‘esoteric’ interpretation, we refer to “the Beatific Vision”. This is the more ‘mystical’ equivalent to “seeing God”. Dante describes the Beatific Vision in his “Divine Comedy” with sublime poetry, detailing how the glories of God, the “Light Supreme”, struck him with such awe that he could truly be described as awe-stricken (Canto xxxiii). The Beatific Vision is essentially what we call it when the soul beholds God. When seen within the context of the whole verse, we can infer that there is a relationship between being reborn in Christ, or being “pure in heart”, and “seeing God” or, the Beatific Vision. If we follow Christ and allow him to be birthed in the most inner parts of our soul, we able to ascend to the heights of the Divine. In a sense, the Divine Comedy illustrates this verse quite well. His descent into Hell, followed by the purification of Purgatory and finally culminating with the vision of Paradise and the Beatific Vision follow the schema set out in the verse: first we must be purified (like gold in the hottest part of the fire), then Christ must be born within us making in us a ‘new heart’, (this regards the “pure in heart”) and then we are able by right (as children of God) to behold his glory.
Accompanying this Beatitude we are presented with Mark 14:36:
“And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.”
This verse helps us see this importance of making God’s Will our own. When Christ relegated his human will to the Divine Will, he was acting as an example of what we should do in our own lives. In all that we do we must praise God and even acknowledging our human wills, we must transcend them to align ourselves with God’s Will. This can be represented with the mystical “birth of the Logos in the soul” that Meister Eckhart preaches about. If we can equate the Logos (e.i. the Word) with God’s Will, then we can see how taking part in the eternal revelation of the Word (e.i. the Birth of Christ, the Logos) would equate to making the Will of God the center of our essential being. In one of its many connections with the other verse, this signifies how we are supposed to undergo the ‘Great Work’. It entails us aligning ourselves with God and his Will. Doing so results in an outpouring of grace, washing over us and giving us the ability to be reborn in Christ and thereby “seeing God”.