On Meekness and Patience
Meek not weak
Although it seems that meek and weak are synonyms, in fact meekness requires inner strength: as the Italian proverb goes, Patience is the virtue of the strong. Anger is mostly a sign of our frustration with ourselves and with the intractability of certain situations. Yet it takes more strength to be able to control oneself and seek patiently for a good solution.
‘The Lord is slow to anger’, the Bible insists, and the reason is that he is also ‘great in power‘.
Active not passive
Meekness also means not accepting to be passive when faced by a thorny situation but being actively patient. Aesop makes this point in his fable of the hare and the tortoise, while the Romans used to say, Festina lente, “make haste slowly”. Whether in politics, in sports or in personal relationships, real success is only for those who know they need to wait, because they know the road to where they are going is a long one.
Being the first and the last at the same time
Sometimes the followers of Christ are unhappy with accepting positions of authority, because, they say, we are called to meekness. Yet Jesus never said that his followers should not exercise power; he said something more difficult, that those who are first should behave themselves like the servants of those who are under their authority, showing real care and respect.
Being meek with oneself
The meek person must first of all learn to be meek with himself or herself. This is perhaps the most difficult task of all, for when we find ourselves making mistakes, apparently unable or unwilling to change, we feel sad and angry at ourselves. ‘When overcome by anger we become angry at being angry, disturbed at being disturbed and vexed at being vexed‘. Yet we must learn not fret over our own imperfections.
To grow in meekness we need also to grow in our capacity to be at peace with ourselves, to find the space to reflect on what is really important for us in life. Only in this way can we be strong enough to resist what upsets our impulsive hearts.
The beatitudes are not rules of behaviour, but statements about what leads to blessedness and happiness. We will understand what it means to be meek when we seek the example and grace of Jesus.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, meek and humble, make my heart like unto yours.
Listen to Enya’s beautiful track ‘Watermark’ as you reflect on today’s text: