Sunday, July 06, 2008

14th Sunday of the Year

I am gentle and humble of heart

Gentle. Gentle.

I remember a prayer from my own childhood - or at least the start of a prayer - Gentle Jesus, meek and mild. Meek - that's a similar word - the meek shall inherit the earth.

Gentleness, meekness, humility are not very popular words or even ideas today. To the modern mind they seem to indicate weakness, a lack of self-assurance. We speak not of meekness or gentleness today, but assertiveness. People even go on courses for assertiveness training. I've never heard of anyone go on a course for training in meekness or humility, have you.

And when we think of Christ himself, perhaps the idea of his meekness or his gentleness now seems very wishy-washy, precious, and perhaps a bit sentimental. The modern mind prefers the image of Christ challenging the religious leaders of his day, turning over the tables in the temple, confronting the demons and casting them out.

But the opposite of gentleness, humility, meekness is not assertiveness, but arrogance. Christ is gentle and humble not because he put up no resistance, but because the example he gives us is of a human being entirely aware of his subjection to God.

And when Christ lives in us we are not weak, we are not pushovers, we stand our ground or rather we stand God's ground - we are not self-assured, but God-assured. It is not our will, but his that is done.

The truly humble and gentle and meek person is the one who knows his need of God, who can see the image of God dwelling in those around him, and who gives his own life to carry the Cross with his Lord.

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