Religion that is pure and undefiled (Jas 1, 27)
Jesus wants his disciples to be clean of heart in imitation of him.
The Messiah is clean of heart. He surpasses the person who tries to remain clean of heart and intones, “How good God is to those who are pure of heart” (Ps 73). For the latter came close to stumbling for envying the wicked rich.
Jesus, on the other hand, harbors no evil thought whatsoever. Because he pierces the mystery of God, he understands quite well that his good is to make the Lord his refuge. To be near God is enough for him; none besides God delights him on earth.
The God-Sent finds no incentive in wealth; it does not lead to glory. Hence, evils do not come out from within him. The only thing that motivates him is his mission to proclaim the Good News and to cure every disease and illness. In his heart are only thoughts of love that seeks every time the good of the neighbor.
And the Master wants us disciples to be like him. He expects to see in us a clean heart where radically internalized is his self-emptying love. Such love is incompatible with all uncleanness and worldliness.
It is, therefore, not surprising that Jesus radicalizes the law and the prophets with regard to murder, adultery, divorce, oath, the law of talion, and denounces the spoiling of works of charity and piety on the part of those who do everything to show off and to attain their careerist ambitions. Without this radical internalization, our hearts will remain far from God and we will never taste the wisdom and justice of the divine commandments.
And really, what structural changes could lead to true church reform unless they are accompanied by a profound conversion? What sense of mystery that is not magical could our traditions, for example, a way of speaking, a rite, a gesture or an embroidered vestment from “the distant times between the fifth and the eighth century” awaken, if we put them ahead of mercy and justice, if we put more emphasis on our works than on God’s grace?
Moreover, how could we discern the body of Christ, if, basing ourselves on outward appearance, we honor the rich and shame those who have nothing? That we let the poor in our midst go hungry, this will surely indicate lack of faith. Only by the light of faith shall we see, according to St. Vincent de Paul, that the poor who have repulsive outward appearance are the ones that represent to us the Son of God (SV.FR XI:32).
Lord, grant us inner purity that will lead us to see you more clearly.