When I was an adamant 16-year-old atheist, I held strongly to my anti-religious views for a variety of reasons. One reason was that this viewpoint allowed for me to make decisions without the Christian moral compass that might obstruct me from doing the damaging activities that I wanted to do. Another reason why I lacked faith was because I could not see God.
I misunderstood. I concluded that God was not real because I could not fully comprehend Him, nor could I conceive in my mind what heaven would be like or how He could exist despite the presence of evil in the world. I failed to look at those who had come before me who had successfully found God and learn from them. I mistakenly looked at others who had failed to see God and chose to continue their faulty and erroneous formulas that arrived at their negative conclusions.
About a year ago I listened to a finance book on Audible called Million Dollar Habits by Brian Tracy. It was actually quite excellent and the skills learned in running your professional life quite easily transfer to one’s concern for the spiritual life. One such point that Brian made was that he said that we can believe that it is possible for each of us to become millionaires because other people have done it.
Actually, the U.S. alone has about 11 million millionaires today. The point that Brian is trying to make is that if 11 million people can reach that level of financial success, then it is possible for each one of us to as well. He and other financial gurus would then advise one aiming for that level of financial success not to copy those who failed in business. Instead the overall consensus is to imitate those who have been successful. We are told to do what they do if we want to reach their level of success.
This is great advice and I would say the same goes for our aspiration of seeing God. If we want to know God, we should not follow the advice of those who have failed to do so. We should look at all of the saints and holy people around us today who have beautiful relationships with God and say, “If they can do this, so can I.”
Therefore, we know it’s possible to have a relationship with God as many intelligent, sane, and incredibly generous people have accomplished this. We must look at what they did and follow their procedures if we wish to do the same. It is good to mention briefly that every person who sees God has humility, patience, persistence in prayer, and fights to follow His plan. It would make sense then for God-seekers to follow in their footsteps. Furthermore, there is one quality given to us by Jesus in the Gospel that He ensures will allow those who have it to most definitely see God.
24 karats is the term used to identify pure gold. To make gold more fashionable and easy to wear as jewelry, jewelers will often add other metals to it to harden it up and change its color. These metals obviously then lessen the purity that the gold possesses which in turn makes it less expensive.
We could say that a 24 karat heart has no “metals” in it that come between the person and God. A pure heart is one that is 100% full of God. For those who are pure in heart, God comes first in everything with no exceptions and without any tainted desires to lead us away from Him.
Throughout the Gospel, Jesus instructs us to have a 24 karat heart, and at the Sermon on the mount, He proclaims that those who possess such a treasure will be rewarded with seeing God. This means that those whose hearts are fully for God will see Him both in heavenly glory and in the world around them. It’s not a carrot to lead us to good behavior, but instead it is a natural effect of living a life seeking and loving God in all things.
To see God means to never look at the world around us, our neighbors, or ourselves again without being awestruck by the immense grace that God pours out to us as we are able to find reflections of Him in everything around us. It means seeing reality as it truly is and then being encouraged, strengthened, and consoled by it, not torn down, stressed out, or embittered. Additionally, Seeing God gives us such an interior life that we can become invincible to what others think of us, to our worries about the future, and to the regret from our mistakes of the past.
Once again, all of this occurs now, on earth. Jesus promised that those who are pure in heart will see God. Others have done it, so it must be possible. How then can we too be pure in heart?
First, baptism makes way for the initial cleansing of our souls from sin and their inhabitation by the Holy Spirit. Through it, eternal life begins and we are made temples of the Holy Spirit. It is by cultivating a relationship with the Spirit by seeking Him and listening to Him and following Him that we grow in our spiritual stature and maturity.
Even years after our baptism we may still find quality in our spiritual life by being pure in heart by committing ourselves to the three following ideals.
- Frequenting the sacraments made available to us, continuing our pursuit of relationship with God, and encouraging others to do the same.
- We can cultivate our relationship with God by dedicating certain time to Him throughout our day when we talk to Him, actively work to listen to what He might want to say to us, or by simply remembering that we are in His presence.
- Finally, we can set aside certain activities we do throughout our day and dedicate them to God, such as an exercise routine, a hobby we enjoy, the sacrifices we make for our families and more. Anything done for God, if it’s truly for Him and betters ourselves and others, can be a path to purity of heart.
These all of course are only steps to take to achieve the goal, so if we find ourselves falling short at times, we remember that God truly looks at the heart to judge our spiritual success. Being pure in heart lies in the seeking, not the completing. As long as we do our best and continue to climb despite our fears, short falls, and complete failures, God will reward us. All we must do is our best to rid ourselves of the metals that harden and misshape our hearts.
If we seek and find this treasure of being pure in heart, the reward is far beyond the pain that it took to get it. The ability to see God is in fact worth more than all of the gold in the World. That is why we must fight for it and help others do so as well.