Jesus said: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”
Meekness is not spinelessness. Rather, from an existential point of view, meekness is strength or power under control. Even more, and, perhaps, surprisingly to modern sensibilities and commonplace understandings, to be meek is to have the right kind of anger.(1)
Therefore, in theological terms, to be meek is to have one’s strength or power under God’s control, so to exhibit or express godly anger; to be angry about the things that anger God.
In godly anger, Jesus cleansed the temple,(2) which, having become an institutionally-established and sanctioned site for greed and graft, “a den of robbers,”(3) had been desecrated; no longer, as God envisioned, “a house of prayer for all peoples.”(4)
One way that I think about Jesus’ prophetic action and apply it to my life…
In godly anger, I decry the abuse of creation and any creature thereof and therein. In so doing, I strive to do my part – where I am, with what I have, and how I can – to halt or, at the least, to stem the misuse of our earth and of others.
To do this is to inherit – to maintain, to preserve – the earth.
Putting this another way…
When I am in that blessed state of meekness, then I find my home in “meanness;” that mean point between righteous anger at the despoliation of the earth and the exploitation of others and compassion for the despoiled and exploited. In other words, I equally am able and willing to act in righteous anger and in compassion.
(1) In the Koine Greek of the New Testament, the word translated “meek” is praeīs, which literally refers to the mean (or mid) point between never being angry about anything and always being angry about everything; therefore, referencing a state of being of balance or of self-control.
(2) So significant was this act of Jesus that it is recorded in all of the canonical Bible’s gospel accounts. See Matthew 21.12-13, Mark 11.15-17, Luke 19.45-46, and John 2.13-16.
(3) Jeremiah 7.11
(4) Isaiah 56.7
Illustration: Christ Cleansing the Temple, Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890)
4 thoughts on “Being Blessed: Mid-Summer Meditations on the Beatitudes (4 of 10)”
Well said my friend! Too many of us often speak and act in the “not so righteous anger “- something I think about and try to avoid (with not as much success as I’d like).
My dear Billy, number me among those “Too many of us often speak and act in the ‘not so righteous anger,'” which is to say, as I age, I learn and grow, I pray into the ways of God. Much love
Thank you for this Paul, I had the whole meekness thing wrong…..I love that meekness is strength or power under control. When I’m angry, I’m not always under control and that bothers me. But it also gives me an opportunity. I can work on controlling the anger and focusing only on those things that would anger God (as opposed to petty things at work that often make me angry)….
Thanks for the clarity you’ve given me on meekness.
My dear Loretta, Jesus always is on another plane. Whenever I think that I understand him, inevitably, on second…or third…or fourth…or on and on look, I see something else, something deeper that I couldn’t have seen at first or second or third or…on and on glance.
All of us are prone to anger, that is, the fulminations of our personalities when someone does something that raises our ire. It is always Jesus who shows us the most authentic – that is, what God intended from the dawn of creation – way.