The Meekness of God

When Cecil B. DeMille cast Charlton Heston in the role of Moses in the 1956 film, The Ten Commandments, he had in mind a very American version of the central story of the Old Testament. The 50’s were deep in the heart of the Cold War with Communism. The film became a vehicle for America’s own cultural mythology. The Ten Commandments turned on the theme of freedom. As such, Hollywood was following a well-worn American path, reading its own history into the Scriptures and the Scriptures into its own history. Moses could thus become the Abraham Lincoln of Israel. Heston’s larger-than-life personality was perfectly suited for this re-telling. Here was courage, strength, steadfastness of purpose, and a personality that could stare down even Yul Brynner (Pharaoh of Egypt). The film became iconic for many, fixing in their minds the personalities within the Scriptures. However, God (and Moses) do not resemble these Hollywood imaginings. Far from being Charlton Heston-like, Moses is described in Scripture as the “meekest man on the face of the earth.” And, like it or not, God is meeker still.

Jesus said:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”(Matt. 11:28-30)

What does it mean to be meek? An alternate translation of the term is “gentle.” In some contexts, “gentle” is the best way to render the word, but, in this verse, I prefer “meek.” It reminds us of the meekness of the Mother of God in her humility and acceptance of the will of God. It takes on a more universal appeal in the Sermon on the Mount, where Christ tells us that the “meek shall inherit the earth.”

Meekness is not a modern virtue. Our noisy world tends to notice the loudest and brashest voices, those whose demands are accompanied by whatever power can be leveraged. We value champions and winners, and, at best, offer pity to those who cannot overcome their meekness. I suspect that most people do not believe that God is meek. No doubt, some who are reading this are already preparing their challenges, citing the cleansing of the Temple or the plagues of Egypt. Such challenges are mere intellectual toys, not rooted in our actual experience of God.

As I stepped outside of my house this morning, I was braced by the cold. A light wind was blowing and the sky was a clear blue, a refreshing change from the rains of the past two days. God was (and is) everywhere present and filling all things, and, in this, He is meek. He provides the opportunity to ignore Him and imagine the world to be inert and to declare Him absent (or non-existent). By the same token, we see suffering in the world and wonder where God is, refusing to see His co-crucifixion in the suffering of every human being (and every created thing).

St. Theophilus of Antioch wrote:

“God has given to the earth the breath which feeds it. It is his breath that gives life to all things. And if he were to hold his breath, everything would be annihilated. His breath vibrates in yours, in your voice. It is the breath of God that you breathe – and you are unaware of it.” Three Books to Autolycus, I,7 

It is clear that the presence of God seems obvious to some, while remaining “hidden” to others. What seems clear to me is that God seeks to draw us to Him through (first) our desire. Though He has utterly poured Himself out for us on the altar of the Cross (and continues to do so), He nevertheless waits patiently for us to seek Him in return.

More than this, in His patience, He invites us into a life of meekness as well. It is His good pleasure that we should inherit the earth. The inheritance does not come as an external award -it is a gift that can only be received by the hands of the meek. This aspect of meekness is constantly overlooked. The Scriptures tell us that: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34).

I believe this reality or principle reveals something about the nature of grace itself, rather than an arbitrary decision on the part of God. Such grace, in the life of the proud, would work for their destruction rather than their salvation. The meekness of God is like the fire of hell on the souls of the proud. If we would know God, then we must be like Him.

When I have written on the character of modernity, I have frequently noted that it lures everyone into imagining themselves in the position of management. With this comes an arrogance that assumes a knowledge it does not have or a skill it never acquired. It speaks of power in a way that clearly reveals little awareness of its dangers. We become noisy people, whose opinions would destroy the earth were they ever to be naively implemented. The present use of power by those who wield it is clearly destructive in many cases, often met with yet more power in an effort to “fix” the last mistake. We have become a civilization built on its own collected errors whose “bills” are certain to come due sometime in the future.

The Way of the Cross is more than a slogan representing how one might value an isolated event in history. The Cross reveals who God is, as well as His wisdom and power. The meekness of the Cross is revealed in the death and resurrection of Christ as the fullness of Divine favor, both the means of our salvation and marker of the path we are to follow. The hiddenness of God primarily obscures Him to those who seek the world’s path of power and wisdom. They see only weakness and folly and taunt those who accept God’s obscurity as a welcome companion in their own humility.

When Christ cautioned the people not to make Him known (Matt. 12:17) it was, the gospel writer said, to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah (42:1-3):

“Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen,
My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!
I will put My Spirit upon Him,
And He will declare justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel nor cry out,
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
A bruised reed He will not break,
nd a dimly burning wick He will not quench,
Till He sends forth justice to victory;
And in His name Gentiles will trust.” (Matt. 12:18-21)

 He is still “not known” by the mighty – and the rich He sends away empty – until they find Him among the meek.

About Fr. Stephen Freeman

Fr. Stephen is a retired Archpriest of the Orthodox Church in America, Pastor Emeritus of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present: Christianity in a One-Storey Universe, and Face to Face: Knowing God Beyond Our Shame, as well as the Glory to God podcast series on Ancient Faith Radio.



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40 responses to “The Meekness of God”

  1. Art Ort Avatar

    Amen, my brother.

  2. Byron Avatar

    Many thanks, Father. I have struggled with living this lately and this is a timely reminder of that need.

    When I have written on the character of modernity, I have frequently noted that it lures everyone into imagining themselves in the position of management.

    This gave me a chuckle, reminding me of the joke about being promoted to a level above one’s competency. It is a sure precursor to failure.

  3. Margaret Avatar

    Thank you for this, Fr Stephen! I will re-read these encouraging words often; they remind me of the Love of God, as well as His Presence everywhere and filling all things. God bless you and yours in all ways!

  4. Maria Weir Avatar
    Maria Weir

    Thank you for your blog, Fr. Freeman. This was just the message to be reminded of right now. The God who wouldn’t blow the house of my soul down was the God who drew and keeps drawing me back to Himself. I’m reminded of this in confession, in spiritual counsel with my father confessor, in my marriage to a meek and peaceable priest, in therapy, and by many. I was raised to make myself larger, to always be ready to manage the moment, yet I feared a God (and men) who by nature would strip me of my personhood, freedom and dignity as a woman and believer.
    It’s so much easier to relinquish fear and control, to respond in love and right submission, when met with meekness.

  5. Dino Avatar

    Many many years ago, for some reason, I asked a holy spiritual Father for a succinct and applicable definition of “meek & humble” – the answer was sort of personalised, as is usually the case with such things, but I still treasure it: “the trustful acceptance of circumstance”.

  6. Allen Long Avatar
    Allen Long

    Father, bless!
    Thank you for these refreshing words.

  7. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    … and in the modern world where meekness is ridiculed at best and the Church herself constantly under attack and under constant temptation to trade meekness for power how do we address such things corporately and personally?
    The example of Moses: “Let my people go!” to those in power or
    Silence and crucifixion?
    Or is there a third option I am not seeing?

    It seems sometimes that what is called meekness is actually unnecessary subjugation while the reverse seems like faithless arrogance and anger.

  8. Fr. Stephen Freeman Avatar

    Moses acted in obedience, not on principle. I don’t think it is possible to create a principle from his act of obedience, other than that we should obey Christ. Grace, in our faithfulness, will establish the way for us. It also might look different for two different people – not in the sense of contradiction, but simply that we are not all called to the same thing. God chose Moses. I would say that He even chose Moses, partly on account of the fact that he seems to have had a speech impediment. He chose him because he was outwardly unsuited to the task – but God knew his heart. His heart was suited.

    I noted in the article that God seeks to draw us by desire. God first made Himself known to Moses then He sent him into Egypt. At that point, I think Moses might have gladly gone to hell for God if asked to. The desire of his heart was for God. This is the foundation of all virtue in our lives – not abstract principles.

  9. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    If I read both Moses and Jesus correctly, their obedience, in part, was to say no to established authority. Martyrdom seems to be the most likely outcome, but not martyrdom for one’s own sake because that “is the greatest treason ”

    Obedience as as a root “to hear”. But to hear, I have to listen for that still small voice within which is telling me lately that His mercy is sufficient and overcomes all. Even though it seems “weak”. Submitting to His mercy is an action.

    Much prayer and fasting and patience. None of which I am good at.

    Thank you.

  10. Fr. Stephen Freeman Avatar

    When any authority asks us to do something contrary to the will of God, we obey God rather than man. It’s not about disobedience. It’s about obeying God.

  11. Esmee La Fleur Avatar
    Esmee La Fleur

    Meekness and Humility = “The trustful acceptance of circumstances.”

    Thank you, Dino. I like that!

  12. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Father, I understand but it is still about discerning the voice of God rather than following one’s own will and passions is it not? My slavery to modernity and my passions can make that a bit difficult.

  13. Fr. Stephen Freeman Avatar

    Certainly. And, so, we are saved by God’s mercy.

  14. Janine Avatar

    I am convinced that God works through the small. Thank you Father.

  15. Anonymo Avatar

    The cross is a path to follow, is a truth I have been contemplating of late. Never really heard it from the pulpit, it was Peterson who first preached it me though which later prepared me for appreciating the orthodox phronema. If we pick up our cross then we will move from sorrow to joy when we experience resurrection to new life.

  16. Dn. Silouan Avatar
    Dn. Silouan

    Father Stephen,
    But how are we to understand the plagues and cleansing of the Temple vis-a-vis the meekness of God? Is it better understood as God withholding something rather than God acting with violence?

  17. Dee of St Hermans Avatar
    Dee of St Hermans

    Dear Father,
    Given our culture that defines success by the achievements of avarice, we have constructed and believe in a paradigm of winners and losers. If we see ourselves as the losers we complain of the odds stacked against us or of a rigged game. Ultimately we are all losers until we learn to love as God loves.

    And that last sentence is perceived as a cop out, a distraction from the ‘real’ business at hand. Our sports culture is all about a fight into which we have been inculcated to rage until we win. And if we win, we gloat, remaining oblivious to the destruction within our own hearts and souls.

    Meekness is this culture is seen as ‘giving in’ or giving up or capitulating to a demon— defined as the ‘other side’ in our sports game of life.

    Obedience is a hard word in this culture. It smacks of a political coup to the ‘wrong side’. When I was reading the life of a saint who was writing on the importance of obedience, my husband looked over my shoulder and was distressed with what I was reading. We have been sensitized culturally to interpret such words to extreme and absurd meanings. And then we end up rejecting the notion altogether, favoring our own hubris in the end.

    How do we resolve our our tensions? My best understanding of meekness isn’t capitulation, but of love. Not sentimental feelings, but love. St Paul uses the negative to describe what love is, by describing what it is not.

    My personal barometer to discernment is whether such thoughts I have or perceptions I hold bring peace and encourage me to love. If not, then I tell myself to put such thoughts aside (if I can) and pray asking for God’s help in my discernment, and be willing to have an open mind to receive God’s words.

    The more we till the soil of of souls in prayer, the easier it becomes for the Lord’s words to take root. But it remains to us a willingness on our part to empty our hearts of our passions.

  18. Fr. Stephen Freeman Avatar

    Dn. Silouan,
    St. Maximus said that “he who understands the Cross understands the mystery of all things.” I take it to mean that the Cross is the proper lens through which all Christian theology should be understood. So, I see that both the plauges and the cleansing of the Temple are the Cross as well (when rightly understood). I will press that mystery only in a suggestive manner for right now (meaning, don’t take this as definitive). But in the plagues, God Himself suffers them as well. He gathers the Egyptians into His Cross, that through that Cross the people of Israel might be delivered. We make a mistake when we separate God from our suffering (any suffering). The same is true in the cleansing of the Temple.

    At the grave of Lazarus, Christ wept. In His weeping He was united with our sorrow (and Lazarus’ death). When the young man (Luke 18) turned away because he could not give up his wealth, we are told that Christ was “sorrowful.” He had united Himself to this young man and was already bearing the sufferings the young man would have to undergo in order to be saved.

    This is how I approach the things. I pray it is useful.

  19. Dn. Silouan Avatar
    Dn. Silouan

    Thank you, Father Stephen. It is useful. I don’t understand the mystery of the cross like St. Maximus, but you’ve given me plenty to consider.

  20. hélène d. Avatar
    hélène d.

    The Romanian father Arsenie Boca (1910-1989), of great spiritual radiance, tells in his autobiography that when Russian tanks invaded Bessarabia, he had managed to take the last train in a small station and leave the area no secure. Fear and despair distorted all the faces of the people around him. Death was everywhere.
    Father Arsenie prayed as the train moved forward. He held in his hand a little bread which he had taken to satisfy his hunger. Among his traveling companions, he discovered a thin man who looked with immense sadness at the calamity. He was crying. Father Arsenie, moved with pity, stretched out his hand to give him bread.
    But at this gesture, the man disappeared immediately, leaving no trace.
    Father Arsenie trembled with emotion upon realizing that he had seen Christ.
    He saw how intensely Christ shares feelings for us humans. Father Arsenie repeatedly confirmed that he had lived such “incognito encounters” and that Jesus Christ came to earth to share the destiny of humanity.
    It was a moment of great comfort and encouragement for him …

  21. Dee of St Hermans Avatar
    Dee of St Hermans

    Dear Helene d.,

    Thank you so much for this story. I needed to hear it and received this bread when I needed it most.

  22. Janine Avatar

    Regarding plagues and cleansing of the temple: Not to take away Father’s point, but it does strike me in another way. This is just a stab with my own limited understanding, but I still see Christ as “meek and small,” if you will. The institution of the temple did not fall because Christ cleansed the temple. In worldly terms, they were still the powerful and positioned. The plagues did not cause the empire of Egypt to fall nor even the Pharoah but they did set a small people free to wander and commit rebellion, false worship, and all manner of things as they did.

  23. Byron Avatar

    Well considered, Janine. Thank you for that observation.

  24. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Forgive me for being obtuse but my brain was caught in the secular meaning of the word meek. To quote Princess Bride it suddenly occured to me: “I don’t think that word means what you think it means.”

    Meekness, the meekness of Moses and Jesus, is a manifestation of mercy.

    Ah, but even that word can be deceiving — thought of as something God or each of us ‘does’. It is rather “an attribute of God Himself”.

    Indeed it can be said that all I have, am and do, even my sins is linked to that attribute of God–mercy. Do not my sins lead me to His mercy if I am meek?

    I am beginning to believe that I know nothing except by His mercy.

    As the story Helene d’ told us Christ is present in each moment of mercy, often in tears.

    True meekness is a willing a acceptance of God as mercy.

    … and lest we forget: “The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle dew from heaven upon the earth beneath. It is twice blessed. It blesses him that gives and him that receives. It is mightiest in the mighty. It becomes the throned monarch better than his crown. His scepter shows the force of temporal power, the attribute to awe and majesty where in doth set the dread and fear of kings. But mercy is above this sceptered sway. It is enthroned in the heart of kings. It is an attribute of God Himself; and earthly power doth then show likest God when mercy seasons justice. Therefore Jew though justice be thy plea consider this: That in the course of justice, none of us should see salvation. We do pray for mercy and that same pray teaches us all to render the deeds of mercy…”

    These times tend to harden hearts, as Pharaoh, and we cry out for justice, punishment and revenge. All across the ideological spectrum.
    It is the way if death but can be seductive.

  25. Dee of St Hermans Avatar
    Dee of St Hermans

    Within science, there is an approach to use what is called “operational definitions”. The practice usually comes into play in such contexts in which there is some attribute or item that is difficult to measure objectively. For example, what do we mean when we say we are sad? We recognize tears of course. But how do we distinguish between sadness, say, and full-on depression? We are better able to diagnose by careful attention to what we mean when we might question someone who is suffering.

    Operational definitions are not imposed on the patient through the whims of the diagnostician. Rather, they are brought before a whole field of practitioners, and more often than not, across various fields of practitioners. They settle on an operational definition after several trials or tests which are triangulated (say from three separate fields). If the definition appears helpful and useful as a diagnostic tool across these fields, then the operational definition becomes a general practice, yet it is still called an operational definition, and usually all the work that has been conducted to corroborate its use is cited.

    I’m not willing to go the route of saying that virtue of “meekness” is some personal definition. Going down that route sounds very much like the warning by CS Lewis in the “The Abolition of Man”, in which the beauty of a waterfall, is described as a subjective personal perception.

    Alternatively, do we have something carefully defined like an “operational definition” of meekness, in the Orthodox faith, that is, do we have something that we can all agree, and say yes, this is what it is? This is where our teachers come in to help us. Fr Stephen puts before us the model of Moses, but not the Moses of the movies. A God who condescends to become human and even to take on the effects our sins:
    “He will not quarrel nor cry out,
    Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
    A bruised reed He will not break…”

    It appears to be difficult for us to agree, as if we want to resist such a model or thought. And at the same time, it seems to me that Fr Stephen is attempting to teach the Orthodox phronema. What is the Orthodox phronema and are we inclined to obtain the Orthodox phronema, or not? Have we ever been or are we ever willing to be catechized to recognize what is the Orthodox phronema, or not? Does our American politics intervene in this process?

    It seems to me these are really tough questions for Americans who have converted to Orthodoxy these days, and perhaps for those who are cradle Orthodox as well. We have seen the Church torn apart before. The question is do we want to contribute to such a process here and now?

    The Reformation was known for its angst, if not for all the other things it wrought intentionally and unintentionally. I was once involved in a reform in science, which ironically fashioned itself on themes similar to the Protestant Reformation. It was prevalent from the 1990’s to the early 2000’s. It hasn’t gone all that well, in my opinion. The predicted glorious result, its fruit, was less than stellar (putting it very mildly). And there was a lot of angst had by all.

    Please forgive me this is a rambling comment.

    I sincerely love my brothers and sisters in Christ. I suppose all that I am really trying to say here is that I hope and pray that we settle down a bit.

  26. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Dee, all I can say is that for me, at least, my experience of a deep mercy like I had never known before led to the beginning of meekness as Father describes it. It is a meekness that, too, is unlike anything I have ever thought of before. A meekness that makes Hamlet’s famous conundrum … “to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them.” moot. The proper answer, I think, is neither. It is a false dichotomy. It is, in fact, not a dichotomy at all. Either of those choices leads Hamlet to the same place. Doom, lots of
    death and the loss of his kingdom.

    What is missing, as it is for us, is the realization that any act done in the consciousness of God Incarnate, no matter how small, bears fruit in due season. Other acts are barren.

    As Father points out that is not the same as quitetism.

    I am sure I am mucking up my explanation as it is all new to me. Forgive me, a sinner.

  27. Dee of St Hermans Avatar
    Dee of St Hermans

    Dear Michael,
    Indeed God is merciful and not the angry God we hear so much about. May He shower you and all of us, with His love and grace, dear one.

  28. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Dee, and you as well. As my wife and I say each morning to close our prayers: “This is the day the Lord has made. Let is rejoice and be glad in it.”
    Some days are easier to rejoice in but we do set out that way. Easier for me now that I am a house husband living in a small house on the prairies of southern Kansas. Of course there is a casino a mile and a half away. Even so I can often look up and see my late wife’s favorite constellation Orion.

    Or to quote another play that is a favorite of mine:

    Jeannette: What do you see out there?
    Thomas: I see a sky so gentle but five stars are ventured on it. I see the sky’s pale belly glowing, growing big soon to deliver the moon. I can see a glittering smear, the snail trail of the sun where it crawled with its golden shell into the hills. A darkening land, sunken into prayer, lucidly in dew drops of one syllable. Nunc dimittis. I see twilight madam.

    I am beginning to believe that only meekness and love allow us such moments of grace.

  29. Janine Avatar

    I wrote this comment before there were follow ups to Byron . But I’m just going to post it now late in the dialogue (because honestly there is a lot I don’t understand completely anyway).

    Thanks Byron and Michael for your comments.

    It strikes me also that in our common modern understanding of the word “meek,” nothing Jesus says to the Pharisees and scribes could be considered meek in that sense. He railed at them. He pronounced “woe” to them. So meek as a term has to be considered in the light of the bold truths He proclaimed as part of His ministry and “in the face” of the powerful figures to whom He spoke. He most clearly defended Himself with truth. I suppose the really great and important question was precisely *how* He did that. There were times when He did not bother to speak. And so I would say that everything He did was with the intent of saving, of salvation. And that would include the cleansing of the temple.

  30. hélène d. Avatar
    hélène d.

    One day I discovered, with shock, that the tenderness of God existed ! Reading Jeremiah 30,20 :
    “Is Ephraim then such a dear son to me,
    such a favorite child,
    that every time I talk about it,
    I still want to remember him?
    That’s why my bowels are moved for him,
    that my tenderness overflows for him,
    oracle of the Lord. ”
    Then I continued to search and other examples of “God’s tenderness” appeared in the Old Testament.
    What is this tenderness of God ? Is she not enveloped in a veil of great modesty, of extreme delicacy ? Is our “human” tenderness one of the reflections, however small, of the wonderful tenderness of the Lord ?
    Who made a father say :
    “Holy Father,
    your tenderness envelops me and makes me shed tears …
    Blessed tears ! tears of tenderness.
    Bless you, for in these tears, you humbly come to mingle your tenderness with mine,
    and thus unite me to you, in the mystery of your love … ”

    And up to Saint Paul, in the letter to the Philippians (1,8) :
    “Yes, God is my witness that I love you all tenderly in the heart of Christ Jesus !”

    How desirable is this tenderness of love !
    In fact I am only stammering what is beyond me infinitely …
    May we all receive this gift from God, this indescribable tenderness of the heart, the caress that wipes all the tears from our faces …

  31. Fr. Stephen Freeman Avatar

    I think it is important to take Jesus at His word: “For I am meek and lowly in heart.” This includes his harsh words to the Pharisees. Christ is introducing the Cross to their lives. It is not a political act, in the sense of an effort to manage the Pharisees. It is a tearing away of the veil that hides the hypocrisy of their lives and actions so that the light might enter that darkness. It is Christ’s descent into the Hades they have created.

    We read it wrong if we see in it Christ as frustrated and angry and finally giving the Pharisees a piece of His mind.

    Christ enters the Hades of the Pharisees. In a few short years, He will pull out of that dark mass of hypocrisy what would be one of His greatest treasures: the Pharisee and persecutor, Saul of Tarsus.

    The words to the Pharisees are to all of us. We are blind leaders of the blind and white-washed sepulchers, etc. Everything should be heard from within the Cross.

  32. Janine Avatar

    Amen, thank you Father. Just like up until the very end it seems He was trying to save Judas too.

    When one thinks on these terms, one cannot help but find awe at the remarkable forbearance of Christ. As He said Himself, ” Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?” The whole point is that salvation must happen through the free will of human beings, in the heart. In that sense God is entirely meek! God waits for our yes!

  33. Dee of St Hermans Avatar
    Dee of St Hermans

    I’m grateful for your continued patience and ‘opening’ of the scriptures to their meaning. One of the comments you have made to me in the past was very helpful, which up to that point I had not heard. These words were: “parable in action”.

    I don’t think it is appropriate to read the cleansing of the temple as an act isolated to itself, as you repeatedly show, its context, mystery and meaning is the Cross, as you (and St Maximos) have said. This orients the reader to interpret these actions from that point of origin. The context in the Bible in which the act of cleansing happens (in Matthew 11:11-18 and Luke 19:45-48), Christ has just arrived humbly into Jerusalem, riding a donkey. In Luke Christ weeps over the city as He enters it. He is accompanied by a welcoming escort into the temple who are singing praises to their King. His actions are not of a temporal King however, He proclaims “My house shall be a house of prayer”. As a parable of action I see this moment of Christ’s cleansing when I’m in prayer, in tears begging God to help me with my hardened heart. I beg that He enters and cleanses my soul. I accompany Him and sing praises to Him as He enters His rightful place.

    It is said in Matthew, while in the context of cleansing, Christ healed the blind and the lame who came to him, right there, in the aftermath of the cleansing, while those who accompanied Him continued to sing their praises.

    In the “woes” to the Pharisees, that passage ends with: (Matthew 23:37) “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See your house has left you desolate”.

    What brings on that desolation of the heart, Christ’s temple? Ask Christ, and He will drive it out.

    St Paul writes to the Thessalonians (1:1-6) extolling them to persevere in the ways of Christ, because they had been pagans and now, having converted, their story became renown and then they became the object of persecution. He says that they are examples to all who believe.

    As a footnote to this passage in the Orthodox Study Bible is a quote from what Ignatious of Antioch says are the examples of (imitations of) Christ’s way:

    “Let [others] be instructed by you, at least by your deeds. With their wrath you be mild, with their boastful speech you be humble-minded, with their abuse you offer prayers, with their deceit you be firm in faith, with their cruelty you be gentle, not eager to imitate them.”

    Here is a lesson for me in my deeds, which they too can be a ‘parable in action’, if I follow Christ’s way.

  34. Nikolaos Avatar

    Meekness and freedom from anger is described in step 8 of St John Climacus’ Ladder of the Divine Ascent

  35. Esmee La Fleur Avatar
    Esmee La Fleur

    Elder Aimilianos discusses anger in The Mystical Marriage, a collection of his talks about Saint Maximos’s Centuries on Love that were recently transcribed and translated by Father Maximos Constas.

  36. Fr. Stephen Freeman Avatar

    Brilliant suggestion!

    From the ending of Step 8. Anger is cross-examined:

    So let the tyrant anger be bound with the chains of meekness and be beaten by patience, and dragged out by holy love; and, being arraigned before this court of reason, let it be duly examined: ‘Tell us, base idiot [meaning the anger], what is the name of the father who begot you and the mother who brought you for evil into the world, and the names of your foul sons and daughters. And not only that, but tell us the designations of those who wage war against you and kill you.’

    And anger tells us in reply: ‘Many are my origins, and I have more than one father. My mothers are vainglory, love of money, greed, and sometimes lust. My father is called conceit. My daughters are: remembrance of wrongs, hatred, enmity,and assertion of rights. But my opponents, who are now holding me captive, are the opposite virtues of freedom from anger and meekness. She who schemes against me is called humility. But as to who bore humility, ask her in due time her self.’

    For the eighth step is appointed the crown of freedom from anger. He who wears it by nature will perhaps wear no other crown. But he who has won it by sweat has conquered all eight together.

  37. Anonymo Avatar

    Dee I am grateful for a comment you made months ago and in hindsight realise how tremendous your advice was, “Indeed courage to love, a self-emptying love, is an amazing grace of God. If I should have any good advice it is perhaps go slow, have patience and look to God for His direction. He is always with you, dear Anonymo.”

    Trust in God’s providence has lead me also to slowly enter into the fullness of Orthodoxy with patience.

  38. Dee of St Hermans Avatar
    Dee of St Hermans

    Dear Anonymo,

    I’m so grateful for these kind words. May God bless your walk with Him, with and in His grace and love.

  39. Michael Bauman Avatar
    Michael Bauman

    Coming back to memory in the past few weeks is a sermon I heard by evangelical preacher in my eclectic years. It was a really moving and impactful sermon but I did not really get it until the Pascha just about 40 days after my wife of 24 years, Pamela Anne, reposed. During that Pascha I experienced Jesus rising from the dead and taking my wife with Him.
    The sermon’s title expresses the meekness of Jesus and the reality of our times, I think: “It’s Friday now and our Lord is hanging from the Cross, but SUNDAY’S COMING!

    May it be so for each and all.

  40. Ralph Williams Avatar
    Ralph Williams

    One of my Greek teachers told me that the Greek word that is translated as “meek” is also the same Greek word used in Homer’s writing to describe Pegasus. Pegasus was so dangerous that no human could tame him, but he was meek and allowed Belleraphon to ride him.
    Our teacher used this example from classical Greek to explain meekness as the character of Christ. He was not weak!

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