March 12 – Third Sunday of Lent

With the woman at the well, it is unclear why she has had five husbands. The detail is not included because it’s really not that important. Rather, we find her in the same situation that we all find ourselves: she is thirsting for authentic love—she is thirsting for God.

Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world without a lot of authentic love. In fact, cheapened love is all around us! One of its simplest and most prevalent forms is immodesty. Modesty keeps at the forefront that ‘I am more than my body, I am more than how attractive I am to others, I am first and most importantly a beloved child of God.’ Immodesty, on the other hand, cheapens love. For if modesty is about “protect[ing] the intimate center of the person,” then immodesty must be the opposite. (CCC 2521) This is because immodesty trains us to treat others (and ourselves!) as objects for use rather than persons to be sacrificed for. Thus, the Catechism says, “Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love.” (CCC 2522) It is an invitation to authentic love and to seeing the full dignity of the human person.

Matthew 5:8 reads, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” Note, then, that this passage not only refers to seeing God Himself, but even seeing God in others! For, when we see others and ourselves in light of our being beloved children of God, then we can more readily treat them as such.

We can therefore see that ‘purity of heart’ extends to much more than just our sexuality. Soren Kierkegaard’s book, Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing makes just this point in an interesting way: if we want heaven, if we want peace, if we want a heart that is undivided and filled, then we must give our entire hearts to one thing and one thing alone: God.

“You shall love the Lord your God with ALL your heart!” (Deut 6:5) “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matt 10:37) It seems harsh, it seems counterintuitive, but God needs to be number one—even before children and spouses, family and friends—not because He needs it, but because we need it.

Think about it. If God is my number one, I will love my spouse with the love of God. If God is my number one, I will be intimately acquainted with Beauty, Goodness, and Truth Himself and thus be able to lead my children to all those things. If God is my number one, I will know which path is best, which decision most efficacious, and which lifestyle the most meaningful.

Purity of heart is simplicity of heart—it is to will the one thing! It is the way to satisfy our thirst. The pure of heart will see God, and the pure of heart will find the fullness of love.

Father James