“For the purity of Christ and the purity that is manifest in our hearts are identical. Christ’s purity, however, is the fountainhead; ours has its source in him and flows out of him. Our life is stamped with the beauty of his thought. The inner and the outer man are harmonized in a kind of music. The mind of Christ is the controlling influence that inspires us to moderation and goodness in our behavior.”
-From a treatise on Christian Perfection by Saint Gregory of Nyssa, bishop (2nd reading in Matins today)
Last night’s Bible study discussion led me to meditate on purity–how we get it, where it comes from, etc. So it was without surprise that I opened up the Office of Readings this morning to find this passage.
My rag-tag feminist sensibilities have always led me to a distaste for the word “purity”–for its sexual connotation and how it seems to hold men and women to different standards. But when the psalmist says, “Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?” and answers, “The man with clean hands and pure heart,” (Psalm 24), I sit up and take notice. Last night at Bible study we discussed the various ways in which the pagans surrounding the Israelites pulled them down into sin, and what that looks like in our own lives. Seeking the beautiful and the good ought to be pleasurable, and yet it is sometimes obscured by the false attractions of the world around us.
In the end, purity is not about being a Pollyanna– it’s about being free. Free from snares, free to pursue God fully. “Take every thought captive in obedience to Christ,” and you will receive his peace as a result (2 Corinthians 10:5). Easier said than done, I know, but take heart–Christ is victorious over sin and death, and he has already conquered the world. Claim his victory in your life and never tire of doing what is right (cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:13).