As friends come back from summer vacations, we hear stories of the places they’ve seen and the people they’ve encountered. The themes of these stories vary. Some are about “clicking with” others and the fun adventures that were shared. But other narratives focus on someone that they didn’t like: “He just latched onto us at the beginning of the tour and we couldn’t shake him!” All of us have had people in our lives that we dislike. How do we follow the call of the beatitudes to be pure in heart when we think about someone that rubs us the wrong way? Shine like stars in the universe as you hold onto the word of life. (Phil 2:15) In the book Why You Say It, the author points out that during the cleaning of floors in Elizabethan England it was important to make those floors shine! In order to do that, one had to rub with the grain of the wood to bring out its luster. If one rubbed the wrong way then there would be less shine, less beauty. Scripture calls us to shine like the stars. Starlight doesn’t make distinctions, it shines on all those who walk through the night.
To be pure in heart: Act in a way consistent with your faith, rather than reacting to the other person. Pray for insight in regard to this relationship. Try not to work against the grain of the person. Keep your heart and your intentions pure.
Let God Help: Create in me a pure heart, O God. (Psalm 51:10) The psalmist implores God to “create” the purity that for which he longs. Without God’s help we might be content to gloat over the misfortunes of someone we dislike. Through grace we are able to persevere in our efforts, developing fortitude to overcome obstacles in our relationships with others. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Human virtues acquired by education, by deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are purified and elevated by divine grace. With God’s help, they forge character and give facility in the practice of good.” (1810) To look at those whom we dislike without resentment and to approach them with pure intentions and a pure spirit is a process of deliberate acts and repeated efforts. We will stumble throughout the process but will be able to persist through God’s grace. In the early 1700s, Jesuit Jean-Pierre de Caussade wrote that the will of God is our sanity in times of vexation. United with divine will, we experience the enjoyment of God that comes with pure intentions toward others. It isn’t an easy process, but with divine grace we can number among those who are pure in heart.