“Meekness is one of the brightest graces which can adorn the Christian character.”~ J.C. Ryle
In the classic Twilight Zone episode The Night of the Meek, we are introduced to Henry Corwin, a down-and-out, largely unemployed, perpetually hammered Lower East Side tenement dweller who, every December, takes a job working as a Department Store Santa Claus. Clad in a mangy beard and a Santa Suit that looks to have seen far too many chimneys, it is in this role ~ and only in this role ~ that Corwin finds a modicum of joy and purpose in a world that appears to have no use for him.
Fired one afternoon after returning to work on the heels of one too many liquid lunches, the boozy but big-hearted Corwin, when asked why he drinks, exclaims loudly “because I live in a dirty rooming house on a street filled with hungry kids and shabby people,” his brutal honestly making those in his midst uncomfortable. He goes on to declare that if he had just one wish granted him on Christmas Eve, he'd “like to see the meek inherit the Earth.” Santa Corwin would have loved today’s Readings.
“A shoot shall sprout forth from the stump of Jesse,” proclaims the great prophet Isaiah in today’s 1st Reading (Isaiah 11:1-10), foreshadowing the Kingdom that would indeed be the fulfillment of all our desires, particularly the meek and marginalized. “Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide. He shall judge the poor with justice. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.”
Today’s Psalm (72), paired perfectly with the Advent Prophet’s words in the 1st Reading, proclaims “He shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. He shall have pity on the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save.” Even today’s Gospel (Luke 10:21-24), wherein Jesus praises the Father for His tendency to favor the childlike, underscores today’s message of hope. This will in fact be a recurring theme throughout Advent. On Thursday, the Prophet Isaiah will proclaim that the Lord “humbles those in high places, and the lofty city he brings down; He tumbles it to the ground, levels it with dust. It is trampled underfoot by the needy, by the footsteps of the poor.” (Isaiah 26:1-6).
Today’s Readings are a prime example of why it is so important to incorporate daily scripture into your life. The meek will inherit the earth?Are you kidding? The meek get trampled. Who says such a thing in a world where might makes right, the wealthy, famous and powerful are idolized and the poor, weak and downtrodden are ignored or merely viewed as a burden? Jesus says them. They are truth. They are the words of the Father spoken by the word made flesh, His beloved Son. ”Meekness is not a soft, yielding, natural disposition, nor a prudent bridling of a passionate nature,“ explains noted British Diplomat George A. Edgar, “but it is humility applied to the world, not taking offense at the offenses of the world.”
So how does one become meek in the eyes of God? Noted American religious leader and author Gordon B. Hinckley explains that “Meekness implies a spirit of gratitude as opposed to an attitude of self-sufficiency, an acknowledgement of a greater power beyond oneself, a recognition of God, and an acceptance of his commandments.” Saint Frances de Sales said “The highest degree of meekness consists in seeing, serving, honoring, and treating amiably, on occasion, those who are not to our taste, and who show themselves unfriendly, ungrateful, and troublesome to us.” Clearly the cultivation of a meek and humble heart can be challenging. It will not happen overnight. The gifts of the Spirit, particularly self-control and understanding, are vital. But as noted Baptist Author Geoffrey B. Wilson once said, “Meekness is the mark of a man who has been mastered by God.”
“Be pleased, O Lord, with our humble and meek offerings, and, since we have no merits with which to plead our cause, come, we pray, to our rescue with the protection of your mercy.” ~ Amen