“Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass.” (Matthew 21:5)
Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ… (2 Corinthians 10:1)
I find it interesting that St Paul pleads “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ”, rather than threatening his followers by the omnipotent power and awesome judgment of Christ. He appeals to the image of Christ as meek and gentle, which of course Christ applies to Himself: ‘Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls’ (Matthew 11:28-29). It is an understanding of Christ, the lover of humanity, that seems forgotten at times in the Church today where people sometimes prefer a judgmental Christ who comes to damn everyone we don’t like. Yet Christ tells us in His Beatitudes: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). Christ blesses the meek and models meekness.
St John Climacus tells us the following about meekness:
Meekness is an unchangeable state of mind, which remains the same in honor and dishonor.
Meekness consists in praying calmly and sincerely for a troublesome neighbor.
Meekness is the fellow worker of obedience, the guide of brotherhood, a curb for the furious, a check to the irritable, a minister of joy, the imitation of Christ, something proper to angels, shackles for demons, a shield against peevishness.
The Lord will teach the meek his way.
(THROUGH THE YEAR WITH THE CHURCH FATHERS, p 126)
Meekness is “a curb for the furious, a check to the irritable.” All the angry Christians need to embrace Christ’s meekness and imitate our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ who is meek. We should never lose sight of Christ’s meekness especially when we feel enraged by others. A sign I see in some yards these days says: “Turn off the News and Love your Neighbor.” In other words, turn off your sinful passions and become passionate about loving others. That is the way of Christ who incarnates meekness.
Fr Alexander Schmemann further explicates meekness based on what he observes in Christ:
…there is nothing abstract in the Gospel. It is not a philosophy, it is not a systematic exposition of moral foundations, principles, norms – it is the story of one man, of his daily meetings and conversations with people who, according to the Gospel, ‘pressed round him‘ (cf. Luke 8:42). So isn’t meekness, first and foremost, an inner freedom from passions, from the complete submerging into the moment, and yet a freedom that does not stem from indifference or from a sense of one’s superiority, since Christ, unlike other teachers and philosophers, does not call for abandoning all this bustle and crowdedness, for the giving up of all human toils and submerging oneself in solitary meditation.
There are thousands of teachings that call for inner peace through the complete abandonment of everything – thousands – but this is not the teaching of Christ: he is always with people, always involved in their affairs, their cares and needs, their joy and grief, but at the same time he is always and everywhere the center of the world, and his very presence brings light. This is what meekness is, for the word meekness has no meaning outside of a living and concrete relationship with others. One cannot be meek in solitude, because meekness is a way and mode of reaction to the behavior of the other, and not some independent quality. (THE WHEEL Issue 2 Summer 2015, p 31)