Each day, two desires contest with each other within us. The first is a desire for satisfaction, in a selfish way. The second is a desire for purification, in a humble way.
Every instinct of our fallen human nature rebels against the idea of purification. To the “old man,” as St Paul calls him (Eph 4:22; Col 3:9), the world seems made for enjoyment and that is why we are put into it. I have the desire to enjoy, to be satisfied (selfishly), as Cardinal Newman wrote, and world supplies the means. The pull in this direction is strong, and it can be especially so when we are hurt, alone, or confused.
Then comes the encouragement and clarity of Christ: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Mt 5:8) This is a divine promise: a pure heart, a Christ-like heart will see—will possess—God…and so will be joyful. This Beatitude summarizes the entire Gospel. Joy follows purity of heart…a heart purified in a particular way: by the Cross of Christ.
The faithful disciple of the Master knows that the Passion fulfills perfectly the life of the God-Man…that it is in perfect harmony with everything Jesus said and did. That disciple knows that the Cross is Our Lord’s most vigorous expression of His philosophy of life, as Fr Edward Leen said. Jesus did not live to please Himself. He lived to please the Father and to give Himself to others; if we are to do the will of God as Jesus did, we should desire to please the Father by giving ourselves to others as well.
The Cross rests in the loving and good hands of Our Father in Heaven as an instrument—His chosen instrument—for the purification of the human heart. Our joy depends not in overcoming the disorder outside of ourselves in the world—and even in the Church—but by conquering, through the grace of the Cross, the disorder inside our hearts, the disorder brought on by selfishness. (cf. Rom 7:19)
“I do as the Father has commanded me,” Jesus said. “Rise, let us go hence.” (Jn 14:31)