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The Meek Will Survive

by Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R.

Scripture says that the meek will inherit the earth. Such a promise strikes our ears as rather grandiose, like hyperbole or grand overstatement. It obviously does not mean the earth in which we live; it means the heavenly world. Our reward for meekness involves spiritual realms, blessings that will last forever.

However, the meek do in a strange way inherit a sizable portion of this world. Do you know how? The meek survive. Did anybody ever say to you, “Oh, you're a survivor”? That means you have a basic kind of meekness. No matter what happens, no matter how terrible things turn out to be, no matter what disasters befall you, you keep trying to find the will of God in those circumstances and keep going.

If you're a believer who is struggling to make progress in the spiritual life, you already have a kind of meekness or you wouldn't still be trying. No matter what the odds, God will give you the grace to fight another battle, until the day is finished and the race is run.

Those who are not meek often die of rage or frightful disappointment or sheer desperation. Because they can't tolerate things as they are, they may violate the notion of meekness every way they turn. Unwilling to find the hand of God leading them through the worst of situations, they may become inordinate in their anger. My friend Msgr. Arthur Rojek, who survived four and a half years in Auschwitz and Dachau, once told me that many prisoners who did not survive died of sheer rage.

Those who die of rage do not have the meekness of Christ, who walked through this earth as the meekest of men even though he was also God. Jesus saw his life's work destroyed on Thursday night but resolutely went on to Calvary. Meek were the last words Jesus spoke from the cross: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do .... Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Here we find meekness in its purest form: the meekness of God.

In whatever small and homely ways God may lead the meek, he often leads them to do a good in a place where no one else will or can do that particular good. I've chosen one man to illustrate this principle, someone who had a profound effect on the history of the world and of the Church. He is an unknown man whose influence is still being felt long after his death.

This man appeared on the scene during an especially difficult time in his native land. By means of a brutal military occupation, the Nazi forces were doing everything possible to obliterate all culture and religion in Poland. In some parts of the country, children were not allowed to attend school or any religious services. They were manipulated to become mindless slaves of the state, pawns of the government.

Cardinal Glemp, the Archbishop of Warsaw, has recounted his own childhood memories from those grim years. As a boy he went to Mass five times in five years. He had no education at all apart from what his mother gave him at home (against the express orders of the state). In such a bleak time, one man decided to start a discussion group on the writings of the Fathers of the Church and the mystics. He wasn't a theologian or a priest or a religious. He was a tailor by trade, a man named Jan Tyranowski who earned his living by sewing clothes and making suits. He actually had a limited formal education, but he could read the great classics and he became an expert on the writings of St. John of the Cross.

However, the meek do in a strange way inherit a sizable portion of this world. Do you know how? The meek survive. Did anybody ever say to you, “Oh, you're a survivor”? That means you have a basic kind of meekness. No matter what happens, no matter how terrible things turn out to be, no matter what disasters befall you, you keep trying to find the will of God in those circumstances and keep going.

If you're a believer who is struggling to make progress in the spiritual life, you already have a kind of meekness or you wouldn't still be trying. No matter what the odds, God will give you the grace to fight another battle, until the day is finished and the race is run.

Those who are not meek often die of rage or frightful disappointment or sheer desperation. Because they can't tolerate things as they are, they may violate the notion of meekness every way they turn. Unwilling to find the hand of God leading them through the worst of situations, they may become inordinate in their anger. My friend Msgr. Arthur Rojek, who survived four and a half years in Auschwitz and Dachau, once told me that many prisoners who did not survive died of sheer rage.

Those who die of rage do not have the meekness of Christ, who walked through this earth as the meekest of men even though he was also God. Jesus saw his life's work destroyed on Thursday night but resolutely went on to Calvary. Meek were the last words Jesus spoke from the cross: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do .... Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Here we find meekness in its purest form: the meekness of God.

In whatever small and homely ways God may lead the meek, he often leads them to do a good in a place where no one else will or can do that particular good. I've chosen one man to illustrate this principle, someone who had a profound effect on the history of the world and of the Church. He is an unknown man whose influence is still being felt long after his death.

This man appeared on the scene during an especially difficult time in his native land. By means of a brutal military occupation, the Nazi forces were doing everything possible to obliterate all culture and religion in Poland. In some parts of the country, children were not allowed to attend school or any religious services. They were manipulated to become mindless slaves of the state, pawns of the government.

Cardinal Glemp, the Archbishop of Warsaw, has recounted his own childhood memories from those grim years. As a boy he went to Mass five times in five years. He had no education at all apart from what his mother gave him at home (against the express orders of the state). In such a bleak time, one man decided to start a discussion group on the writings of the Fathers of the Church and the mystics. He wasn't a theologian or a priest or a religious. He was a tailor by trade, a man named Jan Tyranowski who earned his living by sewing clothes and making suits. He actually had a limited formal education, but he could read the great classics and he became an expert on the writings of St. John of the Cross.

And may he grant us the gift of fidelity to know that even though no one may recognize what we do, though we may live and die in utter obscurity, if we are meek we shall indeed inherit the earth and the heavens.

Condensed from Heaven in Our Hands by Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R. © 1994 . Published by Servant Publications and available at www.sfSpirit.com




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