Sunday, July 6, 2008

Meek and Humble

See Zecharia 9:9-10; Romans 8:9, 11-12; Matthew 11:25-30

1. For I am meek and humble of heart. Most of the time, we do not regard meekness as a quality which we would like to have. We might say, if we are meek, who will watch out for us? How will we get what we need? Surely the strong will overcome us if we are not ambitious and proactive in our dealings. Isn’t "meek" just another word for “loser”? But here it is, Jesus is calling Himself meek. It could be that He is doing that to remind us of the prophecy which we heard through Zechariah- that our king would come meek and riding on a colt. But we ought to realize that the prophecy is about Jesus and who and what He is. Jesus is not just saying things to fulfill the prophet.

2. It may not seem that Jesus was very meek. Look at the way He argued with the Pharisees and the Scribes. And He showed powerful authority with the demons- with only a word He expelled them. It is true, when confronted with sin or with the demons that desire to ruin people, Jesus was not meek at all. But in the most important way, Jesus was indeed meek. Although He is the eternal Son of God, Jesus humbled Himself completely for our sake. God took human form and nature. I read somewhere this week that our Lord did not simply become a man, He became Man with all our human weaknesses, sufferings, and sorrows, except for sin.

3. Jesus’ humility did not end with His humanity, rather He became obedient to the Father in all things all the way to His death on the Cross. Jesus did not prefer to do things His way, for His own benefit. Rather, Jesus said that His work was to do the will of the Father.

4. Jesus’ meekness was not something forced upon Him due to the circumstances of His birth in poverty, in a country under foreign domination. For He is completely God. Jesus Himself said in the garden of Gethsemane Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels? In Eucharistic Prayer number II we say before He was given up to death, a death which He freely accepted. So there was no weakness in that regard for Jesus. His meekness was the conforming of His will with the will of the Father. In this meekness, Jesus undid the sin of Adam and Eve and made it possible for us to obey God.

5. In His meekness, Jesus opens His heart to receive all of us, regardless of how far we have fallen. Jesus said Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. We might be burdened by our efforts to be holy, we might be burdened by suffering or loneliness or sorrow. We might even be burdened by our sin. Regardless of what burdens us, Jesus can provide the rest which we need.

6. A particular burden is the burden of living as Saint Paul says in the flesh as opposed to the Spirit. Saint Paul is not claiming that the body is a prison from which one must escape. If that was so, then Jesus would have never come in the flesh to save us. He would have never risen from the dead. What Saint Paul is taking about is living in such a way that is opposed to the Spirit of God. In other words, not being meek before God the Father. Some examples of living in the flesh opposed to the spirit are more obvious, for example having sexual relations outside of the sacrament of marriage. Or treating another ourselves or another person as an object of pleasure or use. Another example is the life of pleasure- not just sex, but food and drink, the buying of things, the amassing of property beyond what we really need, the pursuits of entertainments. Other examples are less obvious- namely being prideful or selfish, refusing to forgive, using foul speech, disobedience (disobedience is very insidious, since we can do it in secret), powergrabbing, being lazy, not worshiping God as we are obligated to do. Saint Paul would regard all of these things as living in the flesh. And that kind of life is deadly. Some of these actions or thoughts may kill us now. But all of them could lead to a death far more horrible- that is, eternal death in the fires of hell.

7. But can we live the life of the Spirit on our own power? Can we, like Jesus be meek with our own strength? No, we cannot. That is why Jesus calls out come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Only in Jesus Christ will we have the strength and the power to live in the Spirit. And how do we do it? Jesus tells us take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me. That is, we humbly and obediently carry the cross that we each have.

8. But Jesus says something strange at the end: for my yoke is easy and my burden light. Our burdens do not always seem very light do they? When we gaze upon the Cross of Jesus Christ, does it appear to be easy? It does not. But that is where we need understanding of what is actually happening. It is true that Jesus suffered for our sake, but suffering was not His motivation. Think, is there anyone whom you really love? Is there someone for whom you would do anything to protect them, to make them better, to serve them, even if you had to carry a great burden to do it? Even if you had to suffer? Even if you had to give your last drop of blood? If you do, then you can begin to have an inkling of the lesson that Jesus wants us to learn by taking up His yoke. Jesus' yoke is His cross, and it is easy because it is love who is bearing it.

1 comment:

Bekah said...

Today's blog entry was very nice. It spoke to me in several places.