Posted by: jaimemwsanders | November 2, 2020

Blessed are the meek

Then Jesus began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

Matthew 5:2-5 (NRSV)

Yesterday was All Saints Day. It is the custom in my church to remember not only the “named saints” on this day but also the beloved dead: people for whom members of the congregation have asked that we pray.

Each one of these people in some way showed love. By their words and deeds they made it possible for us to believe in a God of love. But they were not interchangeable. And none of them were perfect.

We know this of the people we have loved and lost, that each was unique, and none was perfect. Scripture suggests that even Jesus did not consider himself perfect. Both Mark and Luke recount a story commonly called the “Rich Young Man,” which begins

“a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.”

Mark 10:17b-18 (NRSV)

We honor people not because they were perfect, but because they used their particular gifts in their time and place in the love of God and their neighbors. Something about their lives makes it easier for us to believe in a loving God.

Florence Nightingale used her statistical brilliance and practical nursing knowledge to transform the care of sick and wounded people. “She is also noted for her deeply mystical and pragmatic sense of spirituality.” https://episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/nightingale-florence (retrieved November 2, 2020). That is a different set of gifts than those of, for example, John Donne, poet of love and dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. One can imagine John Donne being overwhelmed by the emotions of the wounded and dying of the Crimean War; one can imagine Florence Nightingale impatient with the slow pace and lack of practical difference of cathedral life. Different gifts; different work; one God.

What is the connection with “blessed are the meek?” The meek are those who recognize that they are part of an interconnected web of blessing. It could be expressed as, “blessed are the grateful.” Along with gratitude for the opportunity to use their gifts for God, gratitude for the different gifts of others.

We each of us have what I call our “inner 2-year-old:” that part of our selves that thinks we alone can fix it; that we alone see the truth; that we should be able to shape the world to our desires. The Beatitudes reminds us that a God-centered life subdues this inner 2-year-old, puts the drive to mastery in service of love of God and of neighbor, and recognizes that we are only part of an interconnected web of diverse gifts and perspectives; that God alone is perfect.


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