Chapter five of St. Matthew’s Gospel is known as the “Sermon on the Mount.” Jesus begins his ministry in Galilee by choosing a group of friends to accompany him on his mission. He goes up a mountain with them and tells them about the beatitudes, which Pope Francis describes as being the “Christian’s identity card.” Jesus’ desire to bring his disciples together to instruct them reminds us of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network of Christians all over the world who come together to pray for the needs of humanity expressed in the Pope’s intentions.
In particular, let us dwell on the fourth beatitude: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” This beatitude should immediately make us think of the “Way of the Heart,” the spiritual pathway of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network that sets us in motion, to make our hearts more like the Heart of Jesus.
For the Church Fathers of the first centuries of Christianity, purity of heart was associated with love. Being “pure in heart” is an ever-improving goal of learning to love like Jesus. This idea is expressed in the “Way of the Heart” and in its first stage: “In the beginning, there was love.” St. Augustine, in the fourth century, affirms that it is faith in God that purifies the heart to love better, and that the purified heart will see God. St. John Cassian, a contemporary of St. Augustine, says that prayer purifies the heart of those who pray and leads them to the merciful love of God.
When we pray for the Pope’s intentions, we participate in a mission of compassion for the world. Our heart molds itself to the way of Jesus, recognizing the wounds of humanity and beginning to see the presence of God in the reality in which we live. Every person who suffers becomes a brother and sister in Christ to whom we are called to draw close.
Pope Francis, when commenting on this beatitude, makes a connection to the biblical passage of the disciples on the road to Emmaus – which we find in the dynamics of the “Way of the Heart.” He says that “the Lord will open their eyes at the end of a journey that will culminate in the breaking of bread.” In the Gospel, we find the Word of God that purifies the heart so that we find in the Eucharist the nourishment that leads us to service, to go out on mission, in imitation of the love of the Heart of Jesus.
Fr. Antonio S’Antana, SJ
Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (Portugal)