St. Mary's AI, Glencairn

St. Mary's Abbey, Glencairn, Lismore, Co. Waterford, Ireland


Strength To Be Meek: Chapter Talk for Feast of All Saints 2016

01 November 2016

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Today, the feast of All Saints has the Gospel of the Beatitudes. We all probably have our favourite Beatitude; I want to reflect today on meekness. 

On Sunday last we had the story of Zacchaeus and one of the beatitudes which Zacchaeus lived and expressed in his life was meekness. He made a great effort to see Jesus irrespective of all the complaining/murmuring of those around him, and he was teachable, open, willing to look at his sinful behaviour; and he was willing to change. He accepts himself and the situation as it is and does something about it. He doesn’t blame others or even ask others to do something for him. He really wants to see Jesus and so he takes stock of the situation and then takes responsibility for doing something to help himself. He puts effort into it—he runs and climbs. He goes to where he thinks Jesus will pass by. This is meekness.

‘Blessed are the meek for they shall have the earth for their heritage.’ Blessed are the meek, the gentle, lowly. Taken from psalm 36: ‘but the humble shall own the land and enjoy the fullness of peace’.

Meekness is not weakness, but strength under control, a strength that is gentle. Some examples of meek people in Scripture:

Abraham: “Let there be no dispute between you and me…for we are brothers…Is not the whole land before you…If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right” Gen 13:2-11 He allows the younger man to have first choice. He does it without murmur or complaint – that is meekness.

Moses: “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all that were on the face of the earth” Num 12:3 He had all the possibility of the court of Egypt ahead of him, but he submitted himself to God and his will. Readiness to do God’s will, this is meekness.

David: “I will not put forth my hand against my Lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed” 1Sam 24:10 David had been anointed King yet he meekly suffered Saul’s unjust and unkind treatment of him.

Stephen: “Lord do not hold this sin against them” Acts 7:60 Stephen’s prayer of forgiveness was simply the expression of his attitude towards all people at all times.

Jesus: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart” Mt 11:29 “He emptied himself taking the form of a servant” Phil 2: 7-8. He surrendered humbly/meekly to the Father’s will.

What is meekness? It is not a natural quality or a natural temperament. Paul was a strong character but he was meek. It is a gift of the Spirit of God which touches our character and enables us to be docile and yielding. Meekness is compatible with great strength. The martyrs were meek but they were never weak. Meekness is control of our tongue, not saying the things we feel like saying. Meekness is having a true and honest view of myself in my relationship to others- respect. Meekness is counter-cultural today: psychology teaches us to assert ourselves, to look for our rights and privileges and status, to magnify ourselves… that is not meekness. “Have this mind in you which was also in Christ Jesus, though in the form of God, emptied himself taking the form of a servant” Phil 2: 5—7 Jesus did not assert his right to equality with God and we are called to this same meekness. The person who is meek is not always on the defensive, watching for her own interests….but is peaceable, yielding, content...the strength to be docile.

Meekness expresses itself in our behaviour with respect to others. The person who is meek is also mild, gentle, of a quiet spirit, reflective. Able to be patient and long suffering even when we suffer, tolerant of weakness. ‘Christ suffered for you leaving you an example” 1 Pet 2:21-23 Meekness means that we are ready to listen and to learn to be taught by the Spirit and led by the Lord Jesus…having a teachable spirit.

The meek person is content “having nothing yet possessing everything” 1 Cor 3: 21 All things are yours (1 Cor 3:21) if you are meek. In this way the meek already inherit the earth. But it has a future reference also. We are children of God “and if children then heirs, heirs of God, co-heirs with Christ” (Rom 8: 16-17) if we suffer with him, then we may be also glorified with him.” If we are meek and endure suffering we will inherit the earth with Christ.

We cannot ever make ourselves meek but we can desire it and ask the Holy Spirit to gift us with the mind and attitudes of Christ. Meekness is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:23) “What the Spirit brings is very different: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness(meekness) , etc. It is offered to us and made available for us. Good thing to reflect on this statement about being meek. We have to watch Jesus closely. Matthew 11:28, 29 - "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and humble in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls."

- Mother Marie Fahy ocso

St Mary's Abbey,


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