I’ve been reflecting on the Beatitudes during my prayer the last several mornings, prompted by the fact that they were part of Sunday’s Gospel reading from Matthew, not to mention the fact that we could profitably spend endless hours reflecting on this central teaching of Jesus.
Reading the passage the other day, the line that I paused at is “Blessed are the clean of heart.” People give different meanings what Jesus was getting at by the phrase “clean of heart.” Where I immediately went in my prayer that morning was to an understanding of clean of heart as signifying a heart free from that which pulls us away from God, a heart turned wholeheartedly toward God.
As I had that thought, what came to my mind unbidden were the words from Psalm 51, “Create a clean heart in me, O God.” With those words, as I sometimes do in my prayer, I had an image of Jesus touching my heart. And with that touch came the realization that the presence of Jesus within me also meant the presence in me of Jesus’ Sacred Heart.
We often look at images of the Sacred Heart. Most Catholic churches I’ve been in have a statue or picture of the Sacred Heart in them and I’ve before mentioned the beautiful Sacred Heart statue that is at the top of the driveway going into St. Ignatius Retreat House in Manhasset. But in my prayer what hit home was that Jesus’s Sacred Heart is not outside somewhere, not some distance away, as a statute of Jesus over there somewhere might suggest. Rather, it is in me. I walk with the Sacred Heart of Jesus in my being. Realizing that gave me a feeling of both comfort and strength.
What was also clear to me as I continued to reflect was that it is not that Jesus’ heart is there in place of mine. God doesn’t take out my heart and replace it with Jesus.’ Rather my heart is there – to be transformed by the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to become more and more a reflection of the Heart of Jesus.
And so I continue to pray, “Create a clean heart in me, O God.”