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A Strong Case for Meekness

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The following is the third of an eight-part Advent series on the Beatitudes, which are found in the opening section of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. The Church considers the Beatitudes the very heart of Jesus' preaching.

"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land" (Mt 5:5).

In an age top-heavy with sharp-elbowed arrogance, let this third beatitude serve as smelling salts for the recovery of Christian consciousness — and clarification on the meaning of a word that gets pushed around.

Mightier than the sword or the sharp elbow, meekness is a complex character-compound composed of humility before God and kindness toward fellow man. "Meekness" doesn't mean "weakness." Weakness is Jell-O nailed to a tree. To be meek is to be Christ-like. Indeed, Jesus told His followers, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves" (Mt 11:29).

Just how meek was He? Jesus, the Messiah, did not come as a military commander claiming His reign over the world (He could have, you know). Rather, He came as a man of humble origins in order that we may grasp the true nature of God, our Servant and our Savior. Only through Him taking on human nature could we transform our weakness to meekness and strive to be like Him. Only through Him living among us could we fully grasp God's greatest attribute, which is mercy for us poor sinners.

More specifically, He came as a Child. Why a Child? To show His desire for our love. He came as a Child because, in their meekness, children draw us toward our better selves — the selves attentive to the needs of others, instinctively engaged in sacrificial love. How meek was He? He allowed Himself to be tortured and killed on a cross to initiate the renewal of the earth.

How meek are we to be? Meek as He.

To St. Faustina, Jesus explained, "meek and humble souls ... most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who would keep vigil at My altars" (Diary of St. Faustina, 1220).

Meek souls trust God, love Him above all else, are confident in His timing, His power, and His grace, and prayerfully submit themselves to His will.

To be meek, we are to be forbearing under injuries and forgiving of those who have abused or disparaged us. We are to pray for our enemies, refrain from revenge, and be slow to anger. We are to engage in holy indifference, to renounce our pride in petty things and trifling achievements.

While the renewal begins with He who followed the will of His Father, it continues here on earth through the meek. The Lord passes it on to us, an inheritance to which we are answerable. The meek are not given the land as a thing to possess or to leisurely occupy. We are to continue His work here as evangelizers. By means of our words and actions, Jesus has tapped the meek to serve as heirs in the kingdom of Christ, bold stewards bearing witness to the Merciful Lord unto death and thereby claiming citizenship in heaven.

"Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in," wrote C. S. Lewis. "Aim at earth and you get neither."

The Beatitudes:
• Part One: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
• Part Two: "Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted."
• Part Three: "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land."
• Part Four: "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied."
• Part Five: "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."
• Part Six: "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God."
• Part Seven: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."
• Part Eight: "Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

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