21 Mar Sermon Snap Shot March 17, 2019
Writing in the fifth century, St. Chromatius of Northern Italy quotes this same verse as he describes the meek:
“The meek are those who are gentle, humble and unassuming, simple in faith and patient in the face of every affront. Imbued with the precepts of the Gospel, they imitate the meekness of the Lord, who says, ‘Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.'”
But Jesus was not passive, he wasn’t a doormat. And this is where the popular definition of meek is lacking.
Yes, the meek are patient and humble and gentle. They are simple in their faith in many cases. But the meek are something else too: strong. This is where another definition of meek helps us make sense of it all: to be meek is to exhibit power under control. Meekness is synonymous with controlled strength.
So the blessed are those who, despite the humbling hardships and challenges of this life, have remained strong. They have remained faithful. They have remained patient, knowing that the Lord has provided and will provide. The meek, Jesus says – as poor and downtrodden as they might be – will one day inherit the earth.
After learning the deeper meaning of this Beatitude years ago, I have always thought of my great grandmother, Leila Lane (“Mama Lane” to her grandkids), when I hear the word “meek.”
Mama Lane was tiny, a few inches shy of 5 feet. It was obvious that she had little to no education. But she was a giant of a person – the matriarch of my mom’s side of the family until she died at the age of 93.
Born in 1900, she was in her late 30s when her husband died of an asthma attack, leaving her with three children to raise (now remember, we’re talking long before social safety nets like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs were around). My grandfather, the oldest, dropped out of school so that he could help provide for her and his two younger sisters. My great grandmother worked a series of jobs to provide for her family. She was a seamstress who did alterations at the local department store. She made and sold handmade dolls (these dolls are now considered the most precious of heirlooms in my mother’s family). And she even bought a cow and sold the milk to her neighbors!
Mama Lane was this quiet, strong, faith-filled presence for all who knew her. For me, she has always been meekness personified. Despite her many hardships in life, if she were here today she would not be able to stop talking about how much God had blessed her. Supremely.
From Sunday, March 17 message based on Matthew 5:1-6, “The Be(autiful) Attitudes: Meek, Hungry and Thirsty”
Pastor, Waters Edge UMC