mercoledì 1 novembre 2017

«Quis ascendet in montem Domini?»

The Psalmist wonders, “Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord? (Quis ascendet in montem Domini?) or who may stand in his holy place?” And he answers his own question this way, “One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain.” Which means, in order for us to stay with the Lord, we have to be clean of heart. Purity of heart is a key element in today’s liturgy: we find it in all readings. This means that holiness and purity of heart coincide; holiness consists in purity of heart.

In the first reading a great multitude is mentioned, wearing white robes. The white robe is a symbol of purity. In the gospel, Jesus declares blessed the clean of heart, and promises them that they will see God.

We could ask ourselves how can we become pure, so as to be blessed and climb the mountain of the Lord. Jesus in the gospel limits himself to take note of the blessedness of the pure of heart, without telling us how to become so. The first reading instead explains why that multitude was dressed in white: because “they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.” Their purity is not the result of superhuman ascetic efforts, but a gift: they have been cleansed by the Blood of Christ; their holiness is the fruit of Christ’s redemption. Their only merit was to remain faithful when they were put to the test: “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress.”

The second reading confirms that, if we are children of God, it does not depend on us; it is a grace; it is a gift of the love of God. But Saint John tells us even how to become pure: “Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure.” He is speaking of the hope that one day we shall be like God and we shall see him as he is. Here is what we should do, if we want to cleanse ourselves: to believe and to hope. Faith and hope are the virtues that make us pure, because they put us in contact with God, who is the source of purity.

That is exactly what Saints did. They were not better than us; they were like us, with all the limits and shortcomings peculiar to the human nature. But they believed and hoped; in this way they washed their robes in the Blood of the Lamb, and so they cleansed their hearts. Thus, they were able to ascend the mountain of the Lord and stand in his holy place. That is why they are blessed. We, too, shall be blessed, if only we would have the same faith and the same hope as them.