The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

“Glorious and immaculate virgin. Joseph, her spouse. Peter and Paul. More interesting if you understood what it was all about,” Leopold Bloom is thinking in chapter 5 of Ulysses, Lotus Eaters. The context: he walks into a catholic church service, and reflects upon theology while the other people there celebrates communion. He mentions the apostle Paul. This was a man who knew something of what it was all about. In 1 Corinthians 15,9 he says: “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” In Ephesians 3,8-9 he continues his reflections upon God and himself: “Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.” And finally, in 1 Timothy 1,15: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” Not even an apostle, less than the least of Lord’s people, the worst sinner. That’s a testimony of the pains of being pure at heart through Jesus.

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