Jesus says in today’s Gospel, “I am meek and humble of heart” I am meek… I don’t know about you, but I don’t use the work meek very often. It is not a word that we commonly use. But today, we hear it in the Gospel and in the first reading. In the first reading from the prophet Zechariah the Lord says, “See your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass.”
Both times the word meek is used to describe Jesus. It is used to describe Jesus not as a tyrant that is coming to lay down a harsh law. He is not coming to conquer and destroy us. On Palm Sunday Jesus did not ride into Jerusalem on a fine war horse that was coming to conquer to conquer Jerusalem, but he came on a donkey, a lowly animal that is not fit for war.
We too are called to be meek. We are to imitate Jesus and thus be meek. In the beatitudes Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Not only is Jesus meek but we also are called to be meek.
So we are to be meek, but what does it mean to be meek? You probably have an idea what meekness means but I know for myself meekness is not a word that is necessarily easy to define. We know that meekness is not arrogance or pride or impatience or pretentious or obtrusive. But we might struggle to say exactly what it is.
To be meek means to be humble, teachable, and patient under long-suffering. It moderates anger and its disorderly effects. It is a form of temperance that controls resentment towards another.
In some ways it is similar to humility but differs in that meekness is referring to one’s behavior towards another whereas humility refers to an attitude towards oneself. Meekness meaning restraining one's own power, so as to allow room for others. It means to put away our high and angry spirits, and to make us lowly in heart.
Sometimes I think meekness is looked down upon because it is seen as a weakness. However, meekness is not weakness. It takes great self-control not to lash out at someone in anger when we are insulted.
But also if we embody meekness and possess the virtue of meekness, we are not hurt when we receive insults. There is a certain self-possession and self-control that allows us to find the maximum of true joy in all conditions of life. Earth is not a place for self-assertion and the graspings of desire, but an “inheritance” which we have received from our father. Rather than seeking power and honor hear on earth we are called to imitate the meekness of Christ. May we be blessed as the meek so that we may inherit the earth.