Faith at Work LXXXIV

July 2011

Our sixth beatitude in this series of nine reads: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” [Matthew 5:8]. It’s the basis for the hymn by John Keble: “Blest are the pure in heart / for they shall see our God; / the secret of the Lord is theirs, / their soul is Christ’s abode.” One of the reasons that the early disciples followed Jesus was his supreme confidence in what he was doing – in John’s gospel, we hear John the Baptist declaring Jesus to be “the Lamb of God!” – and when Philip invites Nathaniel to meet this man whom he saw as the embodiment of all that the prophets spoke about, Jesus catches him straightaway by saying: “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Jesus had the remarkable gift of being able to see the potential in others and to make them who God intended them to be.

That reminds me of the quote that the Bishop of London used in his address at the Royal Wedding from Catherine of Sienna: “be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” It’s very good advice and something I have been using at weddings since then. It’s not easy to achieve of course and one of the requirements is that we are able to focus on the Spirit murmuring in our hearts and listen to what she is saying to us. That necessarily means that we have to be pure in heart – we cannot possibly distinguish the wisdom of the Spirit if we shut her out with all sorts of distractions. That is why becoming still is so important – if we do that, the psalmist says, we will know God and that’s because we will be able to see him, as our Beatitude indicates.

Have you set the world on fire? or do you know someone who has? or can you think of someone who has, or who is your “idol” for a particular activity? We hear of sporting stars who have modelled their game on a past hero and who has inspired them to achieve greatness too. Ultimately of course, we need to be driven from within, from our true being. At the end of July we remember William Wilberforce and his life’s work with his influential friends to rid the British Empire of slavery. Their first step was to end the slave trade; that became law in 1807, but it took another 25 years before slavery itself was abolished three days before his death in 1833.

There are still many examples of people trapped within their situation, by poverty, by unjust regimes, by ill-health, by lack of resources, knowledge or education. It is worth pondering what traps us in our situation. Can we break free? Can we truly become the people God intended us to be? What is preventing our growth in that direction? We return to the last verse of John Keble’s hymn that we started with:

Lord, we thy presence seek;
may ours this blessing be:
give us a pure and lowly heart,
a temple meet for thee.

This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
This page was last updated on 2011-06-03

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