Are you meek and humble of heart?
We tend not to associate meekness with power, perhaps because we aren’t always clear what the word meek means. Yet, when Zechariah predicts the coming of a king who is meek, and riding on a humble ass, the prophet also points to the immense power this king will have when God works through him: the warrior’s bow shall be banished, and he shall proclaim peace to the nations. Zechariah points to a time without war or weapons, because humankind’s true king will be self-possessed rather than vengeful, grounded in the face of adversity rather than belligerent. Indeed, this is the meaning of the word meek: meekness is a virtue that allows us to maintain our self-possession when faced with misfortune; meekness allows us to respond to evil with good from a place of grounded calmness. As such, it goes hand in hand with humility, a word that comes from the Latin humilis, literally, on the ground, or grounded. To reign from a place of meekness and humility, then, suggests that the king of whom Zechariah speaks is calm and collected, looking always toward peace rather than war. That king lives in intimate relationship with God, lives grounded in God’s covenant love, a love that is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness (Psalm 145), a love whose very meekness bespeaks might.
It is not surprising that all of these qualities can be found in Jesus, as the Lord himself tells the disciples in Matthew’s Gospel: Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, Jesus says. Of course we know Jesus is not weak, but he is meek, that is, self-possessed, grounded in the love of the Father with whom he enjoys an intimate relationship: no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him. Moreover, as Paul tells the Romans, if the Father’s Spirit now dwells in them (as well it should since the death and rising of Jesus), they too are called to live according to that Spirit, from that same place of meekness and self-possession that governed all that Jesus himself did while he was on earth.
Are we meek? Perhaps meekness is a virtue we must learn from Jesus himself, that we might live our lives according to the Spirit of God.
This post is based on OLMC’s Scripture class.
Image source: Wordle