The readings for this Sunday contain a kind of instruction manual for life. When a person gets to the LAST STEP, Step 4, of the instructions, he has completed the process for being united to God, for seeing God.
Here is that last step:
STEP 4: Those who are pure of heart will see God, Jesus says.
But how is one supposed to become pure of heart?
STEP 3: No one can boast that he is pure of heart by his own efforts, Paul says. Human righteousness is God’s work in a person.
So what does one do to get God’s righteousness in one’s heart
STEP 2: Seek God.
And how is one supposed to do this?
STEP 1: Observe God’s law. Those who seek the Lord need to observe God’s law, the prophet says.
But here the instruction manual for life seems to have become as confusing as the instruction manual for some electronic gadget. Step 1 has to be completed before Step 2. Step 2 has to be completed before Step 3. Step 3 has to be completed before Step 4.—Except it seems that Step 4 has to be completed before Step 1. If one has to observe the law in order even to seek for God, then it seems that only those who have already found God can begin the process of seeking for God.
When the instruction manual looks as hopelessly confusing as this, people tend to throw it down and yell for help. “I can’t do this!” they yell. “I need help!”
And this is seeking the Lord. As long as this calling for help goes on, the longed-for seeing of God will follow.
Eleonore Stump is Professor of Philosophy, Saint Louis University
**From Saint Louis University