Jesus proclaims in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Mt. 5:8). Our reading from the book of Wisdom tells us that, Wisdom from above is first of all pure. This connection between pure in heart and wisdom is worth exploring.
“Pure in heart refers to those who have attuned their intellects and wills to the demands of God’s holiness, chiefly in three areas: charity, chastity, love of truth and orthodoxy of faith” (CCC2518). If we think of the desires of the heart within these three areas, we can easily understand what it means to be pure in heart. We think of wisdom as something that comes with age and from years of experiences, but true Wisdom is knowing God’s ways and what He desires for us. It means being able to discern what is holy, true and righteous in His eyes, rather than the eyes of the world.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus challenges Peter, and us, not to think as human beings but as God. Our basic human needs dictate many of our decisions; our desires direct many of our choices. To think as humans is to think in a worldly way but to think as God is to look beyond the world and this life. Since the heart is the center of our desires, and fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7), we begin our change of heart by focusing on God, His awesomeness, His caring and concern for us, and the immense love and generosity of His Spirit.
Our choices and decisions often have at the heart that one self-centered question, “What’s in it for me?” The question itself is not bad since our own welfare is important to survival, but the question can also lead us to some bad answers. The key may be to approach the question with a purity of heart so that Wisdom can lead us to the good and Godly answers.