MEEKNESS IS WEAKNESS. This seems so obvious to a secularized, self-sufficient society. After all, what part could the apparently powerless and insignificant meek play in a self-centered, self-seeking, self-promoting culture? Of what use are they, the steadfast and the serene, in a "push-me-forward" world? MEEKNESS IS WEAKNESS.

Or, is it? The Sacred Scriptures show us something quite different. The author of the Book of Numbers relates with a hint of familial pride! that Moses was the meekest man on the face of the earth. (cf. Number 12:3) Yet the rest of the Pentateuch clearly shows that meek Moses was no pushover. The man who could docilely take directions and suggestions (even from his father-in-law) was also the man who could boldly bargain with God, bravely lead his nation out of slavery and sternly rebuke an apostate people. MEEKNESS was definitely not weakness in the case of Moses. It was, rather, a virtue born of Moses' intense experience of God on Mount Horeb. The encounter with the living God who was revealed in the burning bush left Moses a marked man, a meek man. The inner strength which is MEEKNESS enabled Moses not only to carry out his God-given mission, but also to remain steadfast, serene and undiscouraged in the face of adversity.

A prophet like me God will raise up for you from among your kinsmen, Moses declared.
Deut. 18:15 His prediction was fulfilled in a way beyond what anyone could have imagined when the "new Moses," Jesus Christ, appeared on earth. In the Incarnate Son of God, MEEKNESS was lifted to divine heights. Jesus entrusted to His followers a single lesson plan: Learn from me, for I am MEEK and humble of heart. Page after page of the Gospel shows the MEEKNESS of Christ in action in the face of contradiction, opposition, adversity, denial, betrayal, physical torment and mental anguish. This holy MEEKNESS is so fraught with divine strength that the fiery Paul of Tarsus could even invoke it when entreating the errant to repent (cf. 2 Cor. 10:1)

As a faithful student of the Gospel, St. Francis of Assisi learned well the lesson of holy MEEKNESS. He, too, had his "burning bush" experience, in the little church of San Damiano, when Jesus Crucified called him by name: Francis, go repair my house which, as you see, is falling into ruin. The early Franciscan sources tell us that after this, Francis was a changed man, a meek man. Recalling the love of his Divine Master was enough to melt the Little Poor Man's heart. It also tempered his naturally fiery temper, calmed his ardent passions, and curbed and shaped his spontaneous character. In Francis, the second Beatitude became a living reality: Blessed are the MEEK, for they shell possess the land! Through holy MEEKNESS, the Little Poor Man came to possess the land" of his own humanity. His little "acre" of heart and soul became pliable, porous, patient and fruitful. The energies which MEEKNESS held in check were channeled into love, service and surrender.

Divine assistance is needed to put on meekness.
Col, 3:12 So the saints and mystics did not hesitate to ask the Lord, directly and Insistently, for His help. May Thy love make me mild and MEEK! sang the 14th century anchorite, Richard Rolle. It is a refrain St. Francis would urge us to repeat as we seek to reap the fruits of our "burning bush" moments and focus anew on the enduring source of MEEKNESS who is Jesus Crucified. May Thy love make me mild and meek! This is a prayer the Lord loves to hear and answer.

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Mild and Meek

Part 13