Jesus says to us in today’s Gospel account, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.” The virtues of humility and meekness don’t appear to make much sense in our world today.
Take meekness. There is the thinking that if you want to get ahead in life, you have to be hard, because if you are meek, people will walk all over you. Meekness can be seen as being timid, passive, and weak.
However, being meek is not a form of weakness but of strength. We can use the word gentleness to describe being meek. It takes a strong, self-confident person to be gentle. The late Father Henri Nouwen said, “A gentle person treads lightly, looks tenderly, and touches with reverence.” A gentle person knows that healing and growth result from nurturing not forcing.
There was no harshness to be found in Jesus. His approach was always one of gentleness. He did not force himself on anyone, nor try to control them or to impose his will on them. The people with the greatest influence over others have no need to control those they influence.
Let’s look at the virtue of humility. In today’s very competitive society one is told to project oneself if they want to go places. Humility is seen as weakness but it is not. It also is a form of strength. Humility is the foundation on which to build the house of the spirit. Humility is the grateful recognition of our inner goodness, but acknowledging that this goodness is a gift from God.
To the meek and humble Jesus promises peace of soul. Proud and arrogant people do not bring peace. They spread confusion and unrest by projecting onto others their own anger and frustrations. Humble people disarm others and bring out the best in them.
When Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you,” he is telling us that if we unite ourselves to him, if we allow him to be our companion on the journey, the virtues of meekness and humility will blossom in our lives. The result of this will be inner peace and the strength will be given to handle any situation in life.
– Fr. Dennis, July 5, 2020