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Father Muench Says...

Challenged to be meek in a violent time

Sept. 17, 2014

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.”

Jesus blesses the meek and says the way to happiness is meekness.  Actually, this will seem rather curious to many.  In our day, the idea of meekness seems to be a bit negative.  We live in a very violent time.  Today, there are wars – too many wars throughout our world.  War is about being bold, aggressive and violent, not being meek.

I remember only too well as a youth that sports were an important part of my life.  I was taught to be challenging and courageous, certainly, not to be meek. 

Then I discovered Jesus teaching that those who were searching for holiness and happiness should be meek.

So, what is Jesus talking about?  What is this meekness?  Meekness is being humble, patient, even docile – even in the face of provocation from others.  The best model and example of this meekness is Jesus, himself.  Jesus came to this earth to be one of us to teach us of God’s great love for us, to lead us to live in the spirit of that love.  For us, the two great commandments are to love God above all things and love our neighbor as oneself.

To demonstrate God’s great love for us, Jesus lived among us, suffered for us and died for us on the cross.  Jesus accepted these sufferings and torturous death meekly.  He did not react with violence; he went to the cross humbly and meekly.  As followers of Jesus, we have not forgotten the meekness of Jesus.  His example, his meekness at his crucifixion, his message has profoundly influenced this whole world of ours.

The interesting thing is how much the meek have profoundly influenced so much of the world.  This world has been led so often and so well by the meek and the non-violent who have showed that there is a better way.  I am thinking of forceful leaders like Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr., and I would like to add Pope John XXIII, who quietly and calmly touched so many.

I would also like to add an example I recognized recently.

Last week I visited Ticonderoga to see the damage caused by the fire at St. Mary’s School.  Immediately, I noticed the activity of the teachers and the parents of the students, as well as numerous volunteers, all under the direction of Sister Sharon and Father McEwan. They were working together to prepare the places for classrooms to replace the ruined ones.  Their spirt was very evident – lots of life and spirit.

I remember well that there was no anger, no negativity, no mulling over the unhappy details of the night of the fire.  There was instead a humble acceptance, a meek readiness that said “we have a task and it has to be done now.” 

And the spirit was contagious. Each new volunteer seemed to catch it.

I have seen this kind of meekness often.  Remember the definition: meekness is patience and docility in the face of provocation.  I have found this quality in many wonderful people in the parishes where I was assigned.  When there was a problem, a challenge, even a tragedy, the ones who were best to turn to were the “meek.” 
They responded with patience and calmly solved the situation.  There was a strength in their meekness.

Jesus says the meek will inherit the land.  They are the ones who know how to make this world a better place.
I must admit that being a meek person is not easy.  Too many times I have found myself react to a situation with anger; I want to say something that would hurt.  Every time that I took recourse to this anger I ended up hurting myself and hurting others. 

So, how to develop this Jesus like quality of meekness?  There is no doubt that it must be through prayer. Only through prayer will we be united in spirit and love with our Savior, Jesus and discover his loving way of meekness. 

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