2 Timothy 2:24
Who are the meek? The meek are humble people who don’t push others around in order to affirm themselves. Gentle people who, even if oppressed or taken advantage of, don’t respond in the same way, because they are confident in the greater plan of God. Patient people, interiorly strong, but not passive. The beatitude of meekness contradicts our everyday experience, where to win and come out on top, it is necessary to be overbearing. The constant temptation is to become powerful through the use of violence and to dominate others out of fear of losing one’s own life. The meek person does not dominate by force and does not respond to evil with evil; it is to be like Jesus. Jesus lets himself be seized by the hands of his persecutors, representatives of sinful humanity. He doesn’t react with violence, but with mercy and forgiveness.
An example of meekness very close to us happened just a few days ago. We were coming home from a Mass with Pope Benedict XVI. Because it was Sunday, the buses were infrequent and we found ourselves having to wait quite a while. Shortly after we began our wait at the bus stop, a homeless man joined us. He was obviously drunk and an almost insupportable stench of alcohol came from his dirty body. He was completely unkempt, with long and unruly hair and beard, long and dirty nails, his stomach hanging out and his pants unbuttoned. He could hardly keep himself on his feet, but this did not keep him from taking swigs from his half-empty bottle of liquor. While the others of the community had begun to pray the rosary, Alessandro who had already prayed it, instead of avoiding the repulsive creature, let him come.
Unlike the others who saw this man coming toward them, Ale did not run away, but tried to talk to him and convince him to change his lifestyle. When the homeless man (we discovered his name to be Piero) said that there could be no hope for him because he had made too many mistakes in life, Ale insisted that it is never too late. Ale spoke to Piero about mercy, not only with his words, but also with his behavior. When Piero was about to fall because of his drunkenness, Ale held him up and let him put his hands on Ale’s shoulders. They seemed almost to be hugging, in the dynamic of Piero balancing himself by leaning on Ale. Alessandro let himself be touched, he let himself be dirtied by this man who hardly had the likeness or dignity of a man.
Usually in these incidences, we try to avoid the homeless man that comes towards us, we often try not to look at him in the face for fear that he may do something to harm us. We avoid him in order not to feel the discomfort of someone so different from us and in order not to have to feel guilty for not giving him money. What every man needs is not so much money, but love that we can express through our looks, smiles and words. Whoever has the virtue of meekness is able to stay put in front of the possibility of being hurt. The meek stay put despite the stench, whether it be from alcohol or sin. The meek stay there not because they are weak, but because they are filled with love. They trust in the plan of God and don’t pass up the opportunity to communicate God’s infinite mercy. All of the Scriptures are fulfilled in this: the meek servant of humble heart, the innocent just one, the Lord of life who is counted among sinners (cf Is 53:12; Lc 22:37). It is not who commits evil that frees us from evil, but who takes it upon himself.
Paul wrote to his collaborator, Timothy, encouraging him to pursue meekness constantly (1 Tm 6:11). Paul tells him, “the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, an apt teacher, correcting his opponent with meekness. God may perhaps permit that they repent and come to know the truth and escape from the devil’s snare” (2 Tm 2:24). Paul teaches that the duty of fraternal correction must be performed with gentleness, literally “with a spirit of meekness.” Meekness is expressed through kindness, patience and calmness, and is opposed to all that is rude, irritable, and harsh. Who doesn’t melt before kindness? Meekness is the key to win others over to faith in Jesus.
Saint Bernard presents Mary as a model of meekness: “In Mary there is nothing rough. Mary is all sweetness. Look closely in the Gospel and you will not find in Mary either bitterness or impatience. You will find, on the contrary, that all of her steps are towards benevolence. In her meekness, Mary opens to everyone the womb of
divine mercy so all may receive from this fullness.”
Let us pray to Jesus, through the intercession of Mary, to become meek as they are, and with this virtue, gain our brothers and sisters for the Promised Land:
“Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours.
Abandoning myself in Mary, I ask her to mold in me your heart:
sweet, loving, open and passionate,
that no ingratitude will ever close or tire.
O my Lord, give me your grace,
to be meek and humble and to follow your steps.
May my face be meek, without sadness or moodiness,
may my word be kind, without harshness or disdain,
may my actions be attentive, without turmoil or unrest,
may my suffering be silent and peaceful, without preoccupations.
O divine Mary,
I pray to you from the bottom of my heart,
Trusting in yours: give me your gentleness.
Pour in me sweet honey, the holy tenderness
That wins for heaven souls in sin.”
S. LUIGI MARIA GRIGNION DE MONTFORT, CANTICLE 9, 26-27.29
Don’t respond to evil with evil. Don’t always try to have the last word. Correct with gentleness. Pay attention to the weak, letting yourself be touched in order to show them God’s mercy.