Sunday, September 23, 2007

"Brethren, if a man is found guilty of some fault, you, who are spiritually minded, ought to show a spirit of gentleness in correcting him." Gal. 6.1
Thus St. Paul urges us to practice apostleship in a spirit of charity and humility. Psalm 36 tells us: "Patient souls are the land's heirs, enjoying great peace" v.11; and Solomon: "A gentle answer is a quarrel averted; a word that gives pain does but fan the flame of resentment."Proverbs 15.1.
A man who is gentle can do much good. Gentleness is necessary, especially where its contrary exists. It is a question of how we react to an unkind word or deed which we were not expecting, or to sin of another. To be gentle under such circumstances requires self-control, and far from being a sign of weakness, as a proof of a strong personality and long training; self-love and selfishness must have been, as far as may be, conquered.
A man who is gentle, or as the Bible says, "meek", has pity on the sinner who has offended him. He refuses to see malice or bitterness in the words and deeds of others; words and deeds which do more harm to the sinner than to the sinned against. He has pity on him, because he is his fellow man; he remains calm and friendly; his answer is not an angry defense of his own conduct, but a kindly word welling up from a heart in which God's peace dwells, and which therefore brings peace with it. The hothead is calmed down by it, and his anger drops.
Jesus praises the meek who will possess his land, his kingdom, and declares: "Blessed are the peace-makers; they shall be counted the children of God" (Matt. 5:9). Few man are gentle by nature. It supposes true Christianity; it is a grace to be obtained only by prayer and by following the example of him who was meekness itself, and of whom Isaias prophesied: "He himself bows to the stroke; no word comes from him. Sheep led away to the slaughter-house, lamb that stands dumb while it is shorn; no word from him." (Isaias 53:7). He himself urges us to follow his example:"learn from me; I am gentle and humble of heart; and you shall find the rest for your souls" (Matt. 11: 29).
He, the meekest of men, bore insult and mockery for our sake, died a shameful death on the cross, to save us sinners. If we remember him, we shall find it impossible to be hard and unforgiving, however ill men may treat us. They can never behave to us as they behaved to him!
O Jesus, we long to be gentle, as you are, and thus to bring your peace upon earth. You give yourself daily to us as Food and drink, and assure us that thereby we shall live, as you live, in the Father. Give us grace that we may help others to be gentle, and may win them over to your ideal of unity and love and peace.

After "With the Church - meditations on the topics from Breviary and Missal" by Fr M. Goossens OFM