The Virtue of Meekness

By Engr. Carlos Cornejo

To counter the capital sin of anger, we need to talk about its antidote.  There are two beatitudes that confront the deadly sin of anger: meekness and its product, peacemaking.  There are two definitions of meekness in the dictionary.  The first one is that of manifesting patience and long-suffering or enduring harm either physical or moral without resentment.  The second definition on the other hand refers to a person who is deficient in spirit and courage; a coward or a weakling or someone who is submissive.

The first definition is the one we should practice and not the second.  There is a part of the second definition though that we may practice, because our Lord Jesus Christ himself did practice it too and that is being submissive.  But submissive for the right reasons. The submissiveness of Christ was not submitting himself to the environment of his time, or to the circumstances — often times hostile to him, or submitting himself to a person.  It was submissiveness to God. It was a submissiveness borne not out of weakness, fear or laziness but out of love.  Our Lord Jesus Christ was utterly submissive to his Father.  “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.” (John 6:38) He showed us what it means for sons to submit to fathers, wives to husband, and members of the Church to God himself.  Meekness is an aspect of humility, the first and prerequisite virtue, the alternative to the first and deadliest sin, pride.

Meekness is practicing patience with our neighbor.  Meekness comes from charity.  If you love your neighbor, you will be patient with his or her weaknesses and shortcomings.  “Love is patient, and is kind.”  (1 Corinthians 13:4) And in the long run meekness will make us peacemakers.  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Mt. 5:9) First we need to define peace and then second, we find out what it takes to attain it.  Peace, says St. Augustine, is not merely the absence of war but “rest in our end”.  After the stone falls, it is at rest.  After the acorn grows into an oak tree, it is at peace in attaining its end or its natural goal of becoming a full-grown tree.  After an animal’s hunger is filled with food, it is at peace.  And what about the human heart?  St. Augustine gives us the answer: “For thou hast made us for thyself Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”  True peace is intimate union with God.  Our peace can be found in God alone, in this life as well as in the next, because God is our ultimate end or goal in life.

This then will lead us to the answer of our second question, “How do we attain peace?”  The way to peace is Christ himself.  Christ said, “I am the way”. (Jn 14:6) The way to peace is by becoming a new person, by getting a new nature through a new birth, it is by becoming “another Christ” as St. Josemaria Escriva would say.  The beatitude here would now be inverted.  The way to being a peacemaker is by being a son of God.  For in philosophy, “action follows being” (operatio sequitur esse), being a son of God, being another Christ, is to be a peacemaker.  Peacemaker means making peace.  The way to make peace for yourself and for others is by becoming sons of God.  For the children of God their work is a product of who they are.  It’s not peacemaking that makes us a child of God, but being a child of God makes us a peacemaker.  Jesus did not say, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall become sons of God”, but rather “they shall be called (or be known as) sons of God.  Your action is a product of who you are.  Being a son or daughter of God is the cause and peacemaking is the effect.

This is aligned to the teaching of St. Josemaria Escriva who said, “The children of God should be sowers of peace and joy”.  Sowers meaning planter of spiritual seeds.  A devout Christian makes the atmosphere around him or her cheerful and peaceful.  He or she not only calms down others who might be arguing with each other but be a source of peace amidst trials and troubles in life by helping other people see the spiritual meaning of life’s difficulties.  A dedicated Christian practices patience rather than anger by being understanding towards others trying to find out what bugs a particular person, and helping that person with his or her situation if possible.