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The Second Beatitude: Blessed are the Meek or Gentle for They Shall Inherit the Earth

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Who are meek people? Meek people are those people who control their anger. We all have a temper. I tell people you’ve got a temper, when necessary use it but never loose it. Keep it in control. Meekness is therefore the virtue which controls irascibility. There are so many things that can provoke us to anger and so many people. When it is people as I said before they are just being themselves, that’s the trouble they are just being themselves. Oblivious of how they are provoking those who may have to practice heroic patience to not say something or do something. But it is not just people who can provoke us to anger it is situations

I believe, I firmly believe, that the elevator in the Jesuit residence in New York – have you heard this before? If you have not heard it, listen. The slowest elevator I think in the United States. It is the Jesuit residence on Eighty-third and Park Avenue. Built I think at the turn of the century - it moves - but I think that is all. The only way I can control my temper. And when I am telling you people to practice meekness, I know how hard it is.

First of all, I push the button and I start praying. Finally the elevator comes. I used to live on the fourth floor and the elevator is on the second floor. So there are just two floors. And I have timed myself so I can, well, strengthen my patience.

The offices of Double Day, until recently, they have moved now to Fifth Avenue but on Park Avenue they were on the forty-second floor. It took far less time for the elevator in the Irving Bank building to reach the forty-second floor than for the Jesuit elevator to go from the second to the forth. I pray the “Hail Holy Queen” but I found if I did not say it slowly it still wouldn’t make the fourth floor. So I would say the Hail Holy Queen really slow then I found that it still wasn’t on the fourth floor I had to add a Hail Mary. I did that – I mean it – for fourteen years.

But let me assure, as you work on your temper and you manage to control, better God manages to control. You have no elution of how weak you really are no matter how many homilies you can preach.

I define meekness as strength restrained by love. Weak people are not meek people. And one of the problems you will find in the practice of meekness, people are going to misunderstand you. They are going to put you down to a spineless weak marshmallow. It is not a good figure of speech but you know what I mean. Only strong people can be meek.

I love the person towards whom I practice meekness, so much that I control the strength I have. And I tell you the greatest strength we have is not in the muscles but in the mind. To be insulted by some nincompoop and keep your mouth shut. Ooooh! Oooh! How well I know. How well I know!

Now the reward, a strange reward, accept for the Churches for now centuries of interpretation. Surely, the promise of possessing the earth is not that for every act of meekness you add, let us say, one more acres to your possessions – that would be silly!

What the Church tells us the second Beatitude means, the promise Christ tells us for those who are meek, they will have power over human hearts that no one else will posses.

People watching you, people maybe even try testing you, and they find you meek under provocation. God gives meek people such influence over others as no one else on earth has a right to enjoy. It may be that the one toward whom I am to practice heroic meekness, it may be that the person toward whom I must practice heroic meekness, is the one over whom God wants me to exercise that influence. That it maybe without me and my meekness that person may never be converted to God.

Lord Jesus you told us to be poor in spirit that we may posses the Kingdom of heaven. Detach our hearts dear Jesus, these hearts of ours, from everything in this world and attach them only to you. So that experiencing you already on earth we may have a foretaste of the heaven that awaits us.

You told us to be meek and gentle so that we shall posses the earth by possessing such influence over human hearts as only the meek and gentle can expect.

Jesus, there are many people who enter our lives who need grace from you. Make us, dear Savior, channels of grace to them by keeping us in that meekness of heart which you told us we are to imitate you in practicing. Amen. In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Heaven is the place and state where the experience of God is enjoyed.

Copyright © 1999 Inter Mirifica

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