“Who can ascend the hill of the LORD? and who can stand in his holy place?” “Those who have clean hands and a pure heart,,,” (Psalm24:3,4a).
There is quite the irony in these words from Psalm 24. To climb (or ascend) the hill of the Lord or stand in God’s holy place is impossible; from a human perspective. Speaking only for myself, I certainly do not possess such holiness to be worthy to stand in God’s holy place. There is so much about myself and my life that is not perfect. Among them, I am often way too focused on myself.
Thomas Merton in his book Bread In The Wilderness wrote, “The highest and most perfect fruition of God is found in a love that rests in Him purely for His own sake alone” (p. 128).
The purity of heart that Merton mentions is exactly what the Holy Spirit is saying through the words of this Psalm verse. To ascend to God’s holiness requires of us a heart so pure that it seeks union with God for the sake of God; without wanting anything from God for ourselves. Not even a warm fuzzy feeling. Warm fuzzy feelings in and of themselves are not good or bad. However, like most things, if we cling to them for the sake of themselves and/or for ourselves alone; the result can be that God becomes our least concern. On the other hand, God often provides these for us because God knows that we have not yet reached “the summit” of a pure heart. So God out of God’s pure love for us; gives us a glimpse of God’s Self in the Contemplative Vision. Through the gift of Contemplative Prayer we can see everything and everyone; including ourselves; from God’s perspective. God’s perspective is holy and unconditional love. Even for those of us who have yet to obtain a pure heart.
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB