“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt 5: 8)
The Kingdom of the Incarnation is built on purity. “Since all God’s works are a disclosure of Himself,” we can look backwards to the commencement of the Kingdom of the Incarnation to see that, by the overwhelming weight of the evidence, Christ’s Kingdom is built on purity (we cannot deny that God’s love is an even deeper foundation for this Kingdom, but love and purity go hand in hand).
The evidence for our conclusion is simply the overwhelming purity of the four main members of Christ’s Kingdom at its very inception:
FIRST, we have the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose Immaculate Conception is, in essence, the hidden beginning of Christ’s Kingdom. Jesus chose to enter humanity through the Immaculate one, who is both Virgin and mother.
SECOND, we have our Lord himself, the “Celibate Bridegroom,” who is nothing short of INFINITE PURITY.
THIRD, we have Saint John the Baptist, Jesus’ forerunner, who is a man of “mighty mortifications” and consecrated to celibacy.
FOURTH, we have Saint Joseph, a preeminent model of purity in the church (often depicted in art holding a lily of purity).
From these telling facts, we can see very clearly that not only was the Kingdom of the Incarnation built on purity, but that, in fact, this new Kingdom ushered in a monumental purity revolution. From these providential works of God (namely, the persons Mary, Jesus, John the Baptist and Joseph), which came at the very beginning of the Kingdom of the Incarnation, we reach the very important conclusion that the Eternal Father has the highest regard for purity (and thus that purity and holiness are inseparable). Stated differently, God’s Eternal and Infinite Purity shines forth at the commencement of Jesus’ Kingdom (“…God’s works are so many mirrors in which He allows His creatures to behold the reflection of His invisible perfections and hidden beauty….” F.W. Faber).
Now, Jesus Christ is the Lord of purity, and he preaches mightily and dramatically about the importance of purity in his Sermon on the Mount. As the Lord of purity it follows that Jesus is also the Lord of Marriage. Jesus demonstrates his supreme jurisdiction over marriage by declaring null and void the limited Mosaic permission of divorce. Moreover, Jesus raises the union of a man and woman in marriage to a sacrament. And any Catholic who understands what a sacrament is thus also understands the surpassing dignity and holiness of the married state!
For many of us men, impurity has sometimes proven to be a formidable obstacle to growth in holiness. Temptations to impurity test our worth and power of perseverance. In his short reflection entitled, “Do I Love God?,” Father Eymard (Saint Peter Julian Eymard, 1811-1868), the founder of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers, urges us to consider that our faithfulness to purity is a demonstration of our love for God. He states: “Purity is born spontaneously of love. It cannot be taught like a science: it is inspired, we sense it. Love creates it like a pure white flame…. The state of grace is nothing other than purity.”
God loves purity (or we might say that God is purity). God’s love of purity is revealed in a dramatic way at the beginning of Jesus’ Kingdom in the persons of Mary, Jesus, John the Baptist and Joseph. Your desire to be pure, despite so many obstacles patent in our culture, is a wonderful sign of your love for God. And if the road to greater purity proves difficult, rest assured that through prayer, devout use of the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, and loving devotion to Mary, you will make progress.
Tom Mulcahy, M.A. (on the vigil of the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus)
Sources: The Blessed Sacrament by Father Faber, wherein he discusses how God’s works are a disclosure of who God is (see pages 33-56). It is Father Faber who uses (somewhere) the expression “Kingdom of the Incarnation.” The tone, content and style of this note draws heavily on Father Faber!; and The Eucharist and Christian Perfection (Volume I) by Saint Peter Julian Eymard (Emmanuel Publications), which is actually a series of retreat reflections he made to the Brothers of Saint Vincent de Paul, but certainly applicable to the laity as well.
Images: Innocence by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1893, (Public Domain, U.S.A.); Sacred Heart of Jesus, in the side chapel of Gesu in Rome, 1867, by Pompeo Batoni (Public Domain, U.S.A.)
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