The meek shall inherit the earth

February 27, 2012

Glen Argan Western Catholic Reporter

The promise of the meek inheriting the earth sounds ridiculous to us. How can a conglomeration of wispy, frightened, passive nobodies become rulers of any land? Jesus must be engaging in irony, telling a subtle joke.

However, later on, Jesus identifies himself with the meek. "Come to me all who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest," he says. "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart. For my yoke is easy and my burden light."

Moses was meek but he was willing to work as part of a team.

Jesus meek? The same Jesus who chased the money-changers out of the Temple?

In fact, the truly meek person has interior strength. He or she will not be pushed around or walked on. The meek person, however, does not see himself as the centre of attention; he or she is not ego-driven, but is rather a dedicated team player.


We get another clue from Moses. Moses was not Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments. "Moses himself was by far the meekest man on the face of the earth" (Numbers 12.3).

Moses was the reluctant prophet. Reluctant or not, when God called, Moses always responded. From what we know of him, it seems unlikely that he was a natural leader. He simply did what he was asked and the power of God did the rest. A team player who was made the quarterback.

Many of us want to be the whole team. When there is a task to be performed, we will do it all ourselves. Meanwhile, others sign up for a task and fail to carry it out. On the surface, they may appear compliant and obedient. In reality, they only care about themselves and their ever-changing whims and desires.

Neither of these people are meek – not the superstar who does it all and not the quiet person in the corner who signs up for a job and then does diddly.

For moral theologian Germain Grisez, "The meek person recognizes his or her personal vocation, knows its limits, sees in it God's will, and accepts it with resignation and love" (Christian Moral Principles, p. 637). The meek person does not overstep his role, but carries it out with diligence and perseverance.

He or she is probably not a well-rounded person. He has an expertise that is well honed by focusing on developing a limited number of talents and leaving other possibilities lie fallow. When that expertise is needed, the meek person provides it.

Every person has a limited role in God's plan. Fortunately, other people have roles too. The whole thing works if everyone carries out their allotted tasks in accord with God's will.


This is why the yoke Christ wants to give each of us is easy and the burden light. We need to trust that promise and not shirk responsibilities given to us because they look overwhelming. Nor should we try to do more than our allotted share as though everything depends on me and nothing on God or on other people.

When we work in that spirit – diligently and within our limits – we become much easier for others to work alongside. Jesus is meek and I am meek. We do things together. If everybody operates in that manner, we become a team. And teams can accomplish amazing things. They may even inherit the earth.

In reflecting on this beatitude – Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth – here are some questions, one might ask oneself: