Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Mt 5:8)
According to The New Jerome Biblical Commentary (pp.640), “Pure in heart refers to ritual and moral impurity being cleansed (Ps 24:4; 51; Isa 1:10-20). In Matthew, purity of heart stands close to justice and includes covenant fidelity, loyalty to God’s commands, and sincere worship.” In Sacra Pagina, The Gospel of Matthew (pp.79), Fr. Daniel Harrington, S.J. reminds us that “it is a characterization of people of integrity whose moral up-righteousness extends to their inmost being and whose actions and intentions correspond. Seeing God here refers no longer to visiting the Jerusalem temple but rather to the Last Judgment.” In The International Bible Commentary: A Catholic Commentary for the 21st Century (pp. 1271), Farmer describes a pure heart “as one that identifies with and follows ‘every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (cf. Deut 8:3 quoted in Mt 4:4).”
Fr. Michael Crosby, O.F.M. Cap. goes deeper in attempting to explain this most profound beatitude:
“So far, no satisfactory interpretative background for this beatitude has been offered by scripture scholars. Purity of heart as it is described in the beatitude, seems to be more an ethical attitude than an interior disposition; yet the two can never be separated. Seeing God does not mean the beatific vision as we would understand it today. Rather it means to dwell in God’s presence. Jesus said the angels of the just ones ‘constantly behold my heavenly Father’s face’ (Mt 18:10). Seeing God’s face depends on a purity of heart that represents total commitment to God’s plan. This inner dedication is manifested by sharing with those in need (Mt 25:37). For Matthew, seeing God is the reward for purity of heart, for doing good, for showing care.” (Spirituality of the Beatitudes: Matthew’s Challenge for First World Christians, pp. 159)
Seeing God, therefore, means to dwell in God’s presence. Each day, how often do we recognize this eternal calling? Saint Teresa of Calcutta often said that when we look at another person’s face, we are looking at the face of God. As those made in His image and likeness, are we not called to image His love and mercy and forgiveness to others? And by doing so, do we not dwell more deeply in God’s presence?