Monday, September 14, 2009

6th Beatitude: Blessed are the Clean of Heart For They Shall See God

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.

Continuing our commentary on the Beatitudes by Saint Gregory of Nyssa:

We have now climbed great hieghts. In this beatitude we are promised “for they shall see God.” But John says, “no man hath seen God at any time.”(John 1:18)

Gregory writes:

This is the slippery, steep rock that affords no basis for our thoughts, which the teaching of Moses, too, declared to be so inaccessible that our mind can nowhere approach Him. For all possibility of apprehension is taken away by this explicit denial, No man can see the Lord and live.(Exod 33:20) Yet to see the Lord is eternal life.

What does Jesus mean when he promises we will see God?

Gregory says,

Hence the man who sees God possesses in this act of seeing all there is of the things that are good. By this we understand life without end, eternal incorruption, undying beatitude. With these we shall enjoy the everlasting Kingdom of unceasing happiness; we shall see the true Light and hear the sweet voice of the Spirit; we shall exult perpetually in all that is good in the inaccessible glory.

Jesus tells us here that seeing God depends on having a pure heart. But if the effort is impossible as Moses says, what’s the use, Gregory asks. The Lord surely would not tell us to do something that is impossible.

First Gregory reasons the Divine nature is beyond all mental concepts. Therefore the way to knowledge of Divine Essence cannot be through thought. So how doe we grasp what is not know by mental concepts?

Gregory writes,

Since such is He whose nature is above every nature, the Invisible and Incomprehensible is seen and apprehended in another manner. Many are the modes of such perception. For it is possible to see Him who has made all things in wisdom by way of inference through the wisdom that appears in the universe. It is the same as with human works of art where, in a way, the mind can perceive the maker of the product that is before it, because he has left on his work the stamp of his art. In this, however, is seen not the nature of the artist, but only his artistic skill which he has left impressed on his handiwork. Thus also, when we look at the order of creation, we form in our mind an image not of the essence, but of the wisdom of Him who has made all things wisely. And if we consider the cause of our life, that He came to create man not from necessity, but from the free decision of His Goodness, we say that we have contemplated God by this way, that we have apprehended His Goodness–though again not His Essence, but His Goodness. It is the same with all other things that raise the mind to transcendent Goodness, all these we can term apprehensions of God, since each one of these sublime meditations places God within our sight.

Hence it is clear through what has just been said that the Lord speaks the truth when He promises that God will be seen by those who have a pure heart; nor does Paul deceive when he asserts in his letters that no one has seen God nor can see Him. For He is invisible by nature, but becomes visible in His energies, for He may be contemplated in the things that are referred to Him.

But Gregory says there is more to the meaning of the Beatitude.

More to come….

1 comment:

  1. "Seeing God" is a very personal experience...and it comes unannounced and in surprising ways. Some call it "Dancing with God"...but it is really God revealing himself to us in inexpressible ways. One can be reminded here of the "Hound of God"...where God is always there chasing after us and the many things which distract us from him...The very distractions ARE him. He is inescapable...The pure in heart see him...because He is also pure.