We can all claim to be poor in spirit at one time or another. Sooner or later everyone mourns. Most of the time we have a realistic view of our capabilities, not to high, not too low. We try to be good; we seek ways to follow God’s will. We extend mercy a lot of the time; we do good things when we can. But we know ourselves well enough not to claim to be pure in heart. Sometimes we act from mixed motives: we do something good so that people will praise us.
Sometimes we face temptation and have unworthy thoughts.
Regarding temptation, Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) said, “You can’t keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” We cannot be perfect every moment of every day. But we can aim for the good, aim for the right, try to be pure.
The Greek word for pure means “clean, as in clean clothes; sifted like wheat with no chaff; undiluted.” Here we would say that to be pure in heart means to focus on the highest good; to set our minds on God and God’s ways.
People see what they are looking for. One person sees a meadow as a tangle of weeds; another sees the rich variety of grasses and wildflowers. Those who look for everyone else’s faults will find them. Those who try to see the good in people will find that there is a lot of good in most everyone.
As far as seeing God goes, even the great saints and champions of the faith did not see God the way we see a tree when we look out the window. So we cannot expect that sort of vision. But we can see the good in people. We can gain an idea of what God wants from us and for us each day. We can see God’s hand in the majesty and mystery of creation. And we can see what God is like every time we look to Jesus.