Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

The word pure has some negative connotations today. It’s been used as a weapon against women: purity culture. It’s been used to describe extremist expectations: purity test. Purity is used to determine who is in and who is out, who is safe and who is a target for attack, both verbal and physical.

So what, exactly, does Jesus mean by pure in heart? I sure hope it means something different from the hammer word that it’s become.

The word pure, katharoi, literally means unmixed, i.e., uncontaminated. In other words, a sieve has been applied, and all impurities have been strained out, leaving only the pure product. And the product in this case is the heart – the metaphorical, not the physical.

The word kardia is used over 800 times in Scripture, and exactly ZERO of those times does it refer to a physical organ. Instead, it’s always used in a figurative sense to indicate a person’s inner self – their mind, character, intention. In short, their true center.

Who is handling the sorting sieve? God. Not society, not community, and certainly not an individual. It is God and God alone who sifts us with the mesh of mercy, giving help to us in our need, without putting us to a test to see if we’re deserving. Because none of us are. Because all of us are.

And when we are strained and sorted, we will perceive and experience God, the one who owns and sustains everything (the literal meaning of theon, God.) We will be connected to Source.

Divinely enlarged are those who have been sifted by God down to their essence, for they shall be in communion with the Source of all.

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