Meekness has this connotation of being a pushover or helpless, to do nothing, but that is false. Quite the opposite. Meekness is actual the strength of calmness and self-control, to do something good and properly. It means to have your emotions on an even keel, if your will, to not let yourself be controlled by one’s angry emotions, but to remain reasonable and prudent. It leads to the practice of gentleness, patience and forgiveness, for it prevents to buildup of anger and resentment. And in a time where so many people are angry and frustrated, meekness is a very important virtue to have.
We hear from the prophet Zechariah that the savior would arrive a just savior, meek, and riding on a donkey, a colt in fact. Now if a ruler wanted to show off power, they would certainly be shown riding on a horse, a strong adult one at that, demonstrating their force through intimidation. But this savior arrives through gentleness and humility, a ruler who is approachable and seeks to bring peace.
Jesus describes himself as one who is meek and humble of heart. But I would never describe Jesus as a pushover or helpless. He is in fact quite courageous and determined, while being gentle, compassionate, and merciful.
We are told several times in Scripture that Jesus did get angry, and He certainly had plenty of things to be angry about, and there were times things did not go the way he wanted. The many injustices and hypocrisy he witnessed, the slowness of his disciples to understand him, times when he saw lack of faith among the people, and of course the mocking and violence done to him personally. Yet in all this Jesus does not compromise his gospel, he does not say to retaliate at the people. At most, he says to simply move on. He continues with his work and mission, he turns to prayer and even during his passion, does not succumb to anger, but remains calm.
It is through that strength of meekness and humility that the greatest enemies of humanity are defeated; Sin and death. Jesus does not save through violence, but through purposeful humility and charity.
Jesus mentions that his yoke is easy and his burden light. Remember that a yoke is designed to keep an animal moving straight and not going off path. But Jesus’ yoke is not a burden, nor is it oppressive. Instead it is through gentleness and patience that Jesus gives it to us. A yoke to keep us on the right path, the path of righteousness, holiness, fulfillment, joy and eternal life. So, instead of allowing our emotions to run wild and control us, meekness yokes it, if you will, in place and keeps us on a proper path.
Jesus shows us that meekness is not a passive attribute. Rather, it is a willful, positive choice to discern the will of God in all that happens and to take everything in stride, including the good with the bad. That doesn’t mean never addressing the wrong or injustice, but to do so reasonably. As Jesus says, the meek inherit the earth. Thus, a person does not live in anger and resentment, but in joyful peace. Because remember. A person in anger is never at peace.
St. Francis de Sales, who himself had to deal with a personal temper, gives us the following advice in overcoming anger. One, do not entertain angry thoughts, but remove them quickly from your mind. Two, turn to God and ask to be restored to peace of heart. It is the peace of Christ that we seek. Three, while emotionally angry, do not attempt to talk about or solve that which is making you angry. Calm down first. And four, strive to be humble and courteous toward those with whom you feel angry.
The response to anger is to do good. Jesus himself says that the response to insult is to give a blessing. If things in the world make you angry or frustrated, don’t let your emotions stew, do good instead. Learn from Jesus, and you will find rest in your heart.