1. Meekness consists in showing, for the love of God, no irritation when wrong is done us.
Many persons are meek through timidity or for convenience sake, but that is no virtue. One who is meek does not excite himself when he is wronged, i.e., he bears injustice in silence, and is polite and obliging to the offender. There is something divine in meekness. God Himself is infinitely long-suffering; He does not exert His almighty power against transgressors. He bears with the sinner, and gives him ample time for repentance. God appeared to Moses in the burning bush (Exod. iii.), to Elias He spoke by the whistling of a gentle wind (3 Kings xix. 12). This was not without a deep significance. The Holy Spirit also assumed the form of a dove, and Our Lord proclaimed Himself by the mouth of the prophets to be the Lamb of God (Jer. xi. 19). Who can fail to be astonished at the meekness of God when we behold the Redeemer upon the cross? Meekness is agreeable to the Lord (Ecclus. i. 35). God chose Moses on account of his meekness and sanctified him (Ecclus. xlv. 4).
2. By meekness we gain power over our fellow-men, we attain peace of mind, and eternal salvation.
Our Lord says: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land” (Matt. v. 4), that is they shall gain command over others. Those who are meek gain the affections of their fellow-men, and render them kindly disposed. If one who is incensed against another is met with meekness, his anger vanishes as darkness is dispelled on the rising of the sun. A mild answer breaketh wrath (Prov. xv. 1). Bad men may be won by kindness. He who subdues anger within himself will be able to conquer it in others also. A good example of the effect of meekness is given by the conduct of Blessed Clement Hofbauer when he was collecting alms for orphan children in War saw. Going up to a group of men at a card table in an hotel he asked them for a donation. One of the card-players spat in his face. Hofbauer quietly wiped his face, and said: “That, sir, was for myself; I ask you now for something for my poor children.” The man was greatly ashamed, and gave Hofbauer all the money he had about him; what is more, a few days later he went to him and made a general confession. St. Francis Xavier was stoned by the Indians while he was preaching. He went on without taking the slightest notice. The Indians who had thrown the stones were so amazed at his meekness that they were the first to be baptized. He who has complete mastery over himself will find all the world subject to him. Far more is done by meekness than by anger. “One catches more flies,” says St. Francis of Sales, “with an ounce of honey, than with tons of vinegar.” If two hard substances strike against one another, a loud crash ensues, but if a hard substance comes against what is soft, scarce a sound is heard. One must bear with the irate as one bears with the sick, for anger is a moral malady. “Anger resteth in the bosom of a fool” (Eccles. vii. 10). By meekness we gain peace of mind. For Our Lord says: “Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of Heart, and you shall find rest to your souls” (Matt. xi. 29). Consequently the meek are always cheerful. By meekness we gain eternal salvation. The land promised by Christ to the meek is heaven (Ps. xxxvi. 11). There was a servant who could not control his angry temper, despite all his master’s rebukes and admonitions. One day the latter promised him half a dollar if he would not utter an angry word all day long. The man refrained from a single outburst, although his fellow-servants were extremely provoking. When his master gave him the half dollar at night, he said: “If you can conquer yourself for the sake of so paltry a sum, how is it that you cannot do so in view of an eternal reward?” These words had the effect the speaker desired; he had no cause to complain of the in future.
3. Meekness can only be acquired by the diligent practice of self-control.
St. Francis of Sales, naturally of a choleric temperament, attained in the course of twenty years such perfect mastery over himself that he was thought to be phlegmatic by nature.
4. We ought to behave with meekness towards those with whom we live, and superiors ought to be gentle towards their inferiors.
It is especially incumbent upon us to be meek in our intercourse with those with whom we live. Some do not observe this rule; they are angels abroad and devils at home. Superiors ought to show meekness towards their subordinates; but meekness in them is called gentleness. More is done by gentleness than by severity. For the human mind is so constituted that it resists force and yields to mildness, Superiors should be rigorous to themselves and lenient towards those under them. Meekness was the chief characteristic of the apostles. Our Lord said to them: “Behold, I send you as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matt. x. 16). It ought also to be the chief characteristic of the Christian; for Christ speaks of the faithful as sheep (John x. 1), or lambs (John xxi. 15); both these animals are remarkably gentle.
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