In today’s catechesis we focus on the third of the eight Beatitudes of Matthew’s Gospel: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5). The term “meek” used here means, literally, delicate, docile and gentle, devoid of violence. Meekness is manifested in moments of conflict, seen is how one reacts to a hostile situation. Anyone can sow meekness when all is calm, but how does one react “under pressure,” if attacked, offended, assaulted?
Saint Paul recalls in a passage “the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:1). And Saint Peter in turn recalls Jesus’ attitude in the Passion: He did not respond or threaten because “He trusted to Him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). And Jesus’ meekness is seeing strongly in His Passion.
In Scripture the word “meek” also indicates one who does not have earthly property; therefore, we are struck by the fact that the third Beatitude says, in fact, that the meek “shall inherit the earth.”
In reality, this Beatitude quotes Psalm 37, which we heard at the beginning of the catechesis. There, also, meekness and possession of the earth are related. On second thought, these two things seem incompatible. In fact, possession of the earth is the typical ambit of conflict: often there are combats for a territory, to have hegemony over a certain area. In wars, the strongest prevails and conquers other lands.
However, let’s look well at the verb used to indicate the possession of the meek: they don’t conquer the earth. No, it doesn’t say “blessed are the meek because they will conquer the earth,” <but> they will “inherit” it. Blessed are the meek because they will “inherit’ the earth. In the Scriptures the verb “inherit” has an even greater meaning. In fact, the People of God call “inheritance” the land of Israel, which is the Promised Land.
That land is a promise and a gift for the People of God, and it becomes a sign of something much greater than a simple territory. There is a “land” — allow me the play on words — that is Heaven, namely, the land towards which we are walking: the new Heavens and the new earth towards which we are going (Cf. Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1). So, the meek is he who “inherits” the most sublime of territories. He isn’t a coward, a “weak” person who finds an expedient morality to remain outside of problems. Quite the contrary! He is a person that has received an inheritance and doesn’t want to squander it. The meek person isn’t accommodating, but is a disciple of Christ who has learned to defend another land. He defends his peace; he defends his relationship with God; he defends his gifts, God’s gifts, guarding mercy, fraternity, confidence and persons with hope.
Here we must make reference to the sin of anger, a violent motion, whose impulse we all know. Who hasn’t been angry sometime? All. We must reverse the Beatitude and ask ourselves a question: how many things have we destroyed with anger? How many things have we lost? A moment of anger can destroy so many things; one loses control and one doesn’t value what is really important, and one can ruin the relationship with a brother, sometimes without a remedy. So many brothers don’t talk to one another any longer because of anger; they distance themselves from each other. It’s the opposite of meekness. Meekness, gathers, anger, separates.
Meekness is the conquest of so many things. Meekness is capable of winning the heart, of saving friendships, and so many other things, because people get angry but then they calm down, they think again and retrace their steps, and so one can reconstruct with meekness.
The “earth” to be won with meekness is the salvation of that brother of whom Matthew’s Gospel itself speaks: “If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” (Matthew 18:15). There is no land more beautiful than the heart of others; there is not territory more beautiful to gain than peace found again with a brother. And that’s the earth to inherit with meekness!
I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially the groups from England, Norway, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam and the United States of America. Upon all of you and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless you!