Diocese of Toledo, Ohio

Browsing From the Pastor

January 29th/30th Bulletin Article

Dear Friends,

            We move on to the next Beatitude: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.” This, perhaps, is the most difficult of all the Beatitudes for us to understand, and it begins with understanding what meekness is and what it means to be meek. In his book Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI quotes A.M. Hunter, who sums up our perception of meekness: “For our contemporaries, no beatitude is more embarrassing than this one. Jesus seems to promise world dominion to the meek, where in reality everyone knows that the weak—meek—are always trampled upon.” If we’re honest, this how we conceive of meekness: a mousy person, never asserting himself, always the (lovable) loser.

            Think back to the last two Beatitudes: Blessed are the poor in spirit and Blessed are those who mourn. In those Beatitudes, we are taught that those detached from and not addicted to wealth and pleasure are blessed and living well and happily. Our current Beatitude, Blessed are the meek, teaches us that we find happiness when detached from and not addicted to power. This seems to reinforce our usual understanding of meekness. Meekness relates to power, but not in the manner we think. Think of the phrase, “a bull in a china shop.” Bulls are strong and powerful animals, but in the wrong situation, they can be destructive and counter-productive. Their strength and power has to be harnessed for proper use. The same is true for horses, and this is where we get the word “meekness.” A powerful horse that has been trained and is under control is a meek horse.

            For us, blessed are the meek: blessed are those whose power and might is under control. Blessed are those who have strong personalities but are not bulls in a china shop. Blessed are those who do not have to be in control of every situation. Blessed are those who do not attempt to control every detail and every aspect of life. Blessed are those detached from a need for control and power. Blessed are those who do not manipulate others. Blessed are those whose anger does not dominate and overwhelm them. Blessed are those who patiently wait on the Lord amid their afflictions and refrain from responding in anger or with force against those who wrong them. Blessed are those who rely on God, not their own strength, to set things right. Blessed are those who surrender to God. Blessed are those who place themselves under the discipline of God. Blessed are those who conform themselves to Christ, who is meek and humble of heart.

            Following along these lines, Fr. Servais Pinckaers, a Dominican priest, says this: “True meekness is rather the outcome of a long struggle against the disordered violence of our feelings, failings, and fear.” Fr. Pinckaers compares meekness to the mastery of a trainer over a tiger. Using this analogy, he says that within us is a proud and domineering lion, a bragging rooster, a vain peacock, a flattering cat, a sly fox, an envious serpent, a possessive bear, a conceited magpie, a mocking monkey, a brutal rhinoceros, a sluggish elephant, a scared rabbit, a sensual pig, a fierce dog, a gnawing work, a stubborn mule, and a prickly porcupine—these are all vices and dispositions we possess and need to defeat. Meekness, says Fr. Pinckaers, makes these these dispositions to heel and obey reason instead of feelings and trains us for charity.

            Very briefly, we reflect upon the reality that they “inherit the land.” Thinking about powerful rulers acquired land and property through might and conquest, we can see the paradox: the meek, who do not exert their power on others, will inherit the land. By conforming themselves to Jesus Christ, who is meek and humble of heart, they are adopted as sons and daughters of God the Father, and as sons and daughters, they inherit the Promised Land, the Kingdom of Heave.

            We are saints under construction, conforming our lives to Christ in order to be meek and humble of heart. Have a great week!

In Christ,

Fr. Matt


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