GENERAL AUDIENCE with Pope Francis in the Library of the Apostolic Palace
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!
Today we read together the sixth beatitude, which promises the vision of God and has purity of heart as a condition.
A Psalm says: "My heart repeats your invitation:" Seek my face! ". Your face, Lord, I seek. Do not hide your face from me "(27,8-9).
This language manifests the thirst for a personal relationship with God, not mechanical, not a little nebulous, no: personal, which also the book of Job expresses as a sign of a sincere relationship. Thus says the book of Job: "I knew you only by hearsay, but now my eyes have seen you" (Job 42.5). And many times I think this is the path of life, in our relationships with God. We know God by hearsay, but with our experience we go on, on, on and on and we know him directly, if we are faithful ... And this is the maturity of the Spirit.
How can we get to this intimacy, to know God with our eyes? One can think of the disciples of Emmaus, for example, who have the Lord Jesus beside them, "but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him" (Lk 24,16). The Lord will open their eyes at the end of a journey that culminates in the breaking of the bread and began with a rebuke: "Foolish and slow-hearted to believe in all that the prophets said!" (Lk 24.25). That is the rebuke of the beginning. Here is the origin of their blindness: their foolish and slow heart. And when the heart is foolish and slow, things are not seen. Things are seen as clouded. Here lies the wisdom of this bliss: to be able to contemplate it is necessary to enter within us and make room for God, because, as St. Augustine says, "God is more intimate to me than myself" ("interior intimo meo": Confessions , III, 6.11). To see God there is no need to change glasses or observation point, or to change theological authors who teach the way: you must free your heart from its deceptions! This road is the only one.
This is a decisive maturation: when we realize that our worst enemy is often hidden in our hearts. The most noble battle is that against the internal deceptions that generate our sins. Because sins change the inner vision, they change the evaluation of things, they show things that are not true, or at least that are not so true.
It is therefore important to understand what "purity of the heart" is. To do this, it must be remembered that for the Bible the heart does not consist only of feelings, but is the most intimate place of the human being, the inner space where a person is himself. This, according to the biblical mentality.
The same Gospel of Matthew says: "If the light that is in you is darkness, how great the darkness will be!" (6.23). This "light" is the gaze of the heart, the perspective, the synthesis, the point from which reality can be read (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, 143).
But what does "pure" heart mean? The pure in heart lives in the presence of the Lord, keeping in his heart what is worthy of the relationship with him; only in this way does it have a "unified", linear, non-tortuous but simple life.
The purified heart is therefore the result of a process that involves liberation and renunciation. The pure of heart is not born as such, has experienced an interior simplification, learning to deny evil in itself, which in the Bible is called circumcision of the heart (cf. Dt 10.16; 30.6; Ez 44.9; Jer 4, 4).
This inner purification implies the recognition of that part of the heart that is under the influence of evil - "You know, Father, I feel like this, I think so, I see like this, and this is bad": to recognize the bad part, the part that is clouded by evil - to learn the art of always being taught and led by the Holy Spirit. The journey from the sick heart, from the sinful heart, from the heart that cannot see things well, because it is in sin, in the fullness of the light of the heart it is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is he who guides us on this journey. Here, through this journey of the heart, we come to "see God".
In this beatific vision there is a future eschatological dimension, as in all the Beatitudes: it is the joy of the Kingdom of Heaven to which we are going. But there is also the other dimension: seeing God means understanding the designs of Providence in what happens to us, recognizing his presence in the Sacraments, his presence in the brothers, especially the poor and suffering, and recognizing him where He manifests himself ( cf Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2519).
This happiness is a bit the fruit of the previous ones: if we have listened to the thirst for good that lives in us and we are aware of living in mercy, a journey of liberation begins that lasts a lifetime and leads to Heaven. It is a serious job, a job that the Holy Spirit does if we give him space to do it, if we are open to the action of the Holy Spirit. For this reason we can say that a work of God in us - in the trials and purifications of life - and this work of God and the Holy Spirit leads to great joy, to true peace. We are not afraid, we open the doors of our heart to the Holy Spirit to purify us and carry us forward on this path towards full joy.
I cordially greet the Italian-speaking faithful. My thoughts go, in particular, to the groups that had long booked to be present today. Among these, the young people of the profession of faith of the Diocese of Milan, connected to this meeting through the means of social communication. Dear children, even if your pilgrimage to Rome is only virtual, I almost seem to perceive your joyful and noisy presence, made concrete also by the many written messages you sent me: you have sent many, and they are beautiful! Messages are beautiful, beautiful. Thank you very much. Thanks for this union with us. Pray for me, don't forget. I thank you and encourage you to always live the faith with enthusiasm and not to lose hope in Jesus, the faithful friend who fills our life with happiness, even in difficult times.
Lastly, I greet the young, the sick, the elderly and the newlyweds. The last glimpse of the Lenten season we are experiencing may favor an adequate preparation for the celebration of Easter, each leading to an even more felt closeness to Christ. My blessing to all.
FULL TEXT + Image Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation