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Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart
Jesus asks us to, “Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn of me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NJB)
In our modern, aggressive world it is difficult for a person to be gentle (meek) and humble in heart. People will take advantage of him if he is meek. The world thinks a meek person is a weak person---A person who is indecisive, a door-mat to be stepped on or with no back bone to stand up to tough actions. The world sees him as a person who does not argue, who accepts insults and injuries and who will be slighted, ignored, and alienated. But Jesus asks us to learn from Him to be meek (gentle) and humble of heart. Is there something not quite right here?
It is so very easy to be proud, hard, and selfish---so easy. It is impossible for a proud person to be meek for that is a contradiction. It is difficult for a proud person to bend, to be humble and to pray. But we have been created for greater things; why stoop down to things that spoil the beauty of our hearts with selfish pride? Meekness and humility are traits that, like the strong reed, are flexible and bend in fierce storms but they do not break.
Yes, Jesus asks us to learn from Him to be meek and humble in heart. What have we to learn? When we have learnt to be meek and humble we will learn to pray. When we learn to pray, we will belong to Jesus. When we belong to Jesus we will learn to believe. When we believe we will learn to love, and when we love we will learn to serve.
Here is what Mother Teresa tells us about meekness and humility:
“The only thing Jesus has asked us to be is meek and humble of heart, and to do this, he has taught us to pray. He has put “meek” first. From that one word comes gentleness, thoughtfulness, simplicity, generosity, truthfulness. For whom? For one another. Jesus put “humility” after meekness. We cannot love one another unless we hear the voice of God in our hearts.” (A Life for God, 78)
“These are the few ways we can practice humility:
· To speak as little as possible of oneself
· To mind one’s own business.
· Not to want to manage other people’s affairs.
· To avoid curiosity
· To accept contradiction and correction cheerfully.
· To pass over the mistakes of others.
· To accept insults and injuries.
· To accept being slighted, forgotten, and disliked.
· Not to seek to be specially loved and admired.
· To be kind and gentle even under provocation.
· Never to stand on one’s dignity.
· To yield in discussion even though one is right.
· To choose always the hardest.” (A Life for God, 65)
“’Learn,’ Jesus said, ‘Learn of me because I am meek and humble of heart.’ He didn’t ask us to learn big things. He asked us to learn from Him to be meek and humble of heart. And it is so beautiful to think that He puts meekness first: meekness with one another, meekness that means love in action, that kindness, that thoughtfulness. And Jesus said, “By this they will know that you are my disciples.” By this meekness, by this kindness, people will know that you are a Co-Worker, that you are there to radiate joy, to radiate love and meekness. And then He says, humility, humility with God. The child of God. From an address to Co-Workers (Daily Reading with Mother Teresa, 78)
“Humility is the mother of all virtues; purity, charity and obedience. It is in being humble that our love becomes real, devoted and ardent. If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. If you are blamed you will not be discouraged. If they call you a saint you will not put yourself on a pedestal.” (The Joy in Loving, 31 October)
“It strikes me how God is humble. He humbled Himself; He who possessed the fullness of the Godhead took the form of a servant. Even today God shows His humility by making use of instruments as weak and imperfect as we are. He deigns to work through us. Then there must be joy in the heart. That is not incompatible with humility.” (The Joy in Loving, 19 Oct)
“Thoughtfulness is the beginning of great sanctity. If you learn this art of being thoughtful, you will become more and more Christ-like, for his heart was meek and he always thought of others. Jesus ‘went about doing good.’ Our Lady did nothing else in Cana, but thought of the need of the others and made their need known to Jesus. The thoughtfulness of Jesus and Mary and Joseph was so great that it made Nazareth the abode of God Most High. If we also have that kind of thoughtfulness for each other, our communities will really become the abode of God Most High.” (Jesus, The Word to be spoken, Oct 10)
“I have experienced many human weaknesses, many human frailties, and I still experience them. But we need to use them. We need to work for Christ with a humble heart, with the humility of Christ. He comes and uses us to be his love and compassion in the world in spite of our weaknesses and frailties.” (A Life for God, 88)
“Today, when everything is questioned and changed, let us go back to Nazareth. Jesus had come to redeem the world, to teach us the love of his Father. How strange that he should spend thirty years just doing nothing, wasting his time! Not giving expression to his personality or to his gifts! We know that at the age of twelve he silenced the learned priests of the Temple, who knew so much and so well. But when his parents found him, he went down to Nazareth and was subject to them. For twenty years we hear no more of him, so that the people were astonished when he came in public to preach. He, a carpenter’s son, doing just the humble work in a carpenter’s shop for thirty years!” (A Life for God, 117)
“Be sincere in your prayers. Do you know how to pray? Do you love to pray? Sincerity is nothing but humility, and you acquire humility only by accepting humiliations. All that has been said about humility is not enough to teach you humility. All that you have read about humility is not enough to teach you humility. You learn humility only by accepting humiliations. And you will meet humiliation all through your lives.
The greatest humiliation is to know that you are nothing. This you come to know when you face God in prayer. When you come face to face with God, you cannot but know that you are nothing, that you have nothing. In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with himself.
When you become full of God, you will do all your work well, all of it wholeheartedly. We have our fourth vow of wholehearted service: it means to be full of God. And when you are full of God, you will do everything well. This you can do only if you pray, if you know how to pray, if you love prayer, and if you pray well.” (A Life for God, 19)
“When you are cooking, washing clothes, working hard in the office, do all with joy. That will be your love for God in action! . . . .the fidelity to humble works is our means to put our love into action.” (A Life for God, 205)
“If we have sinned or made a mistake, let us go to him and say, ‘I’m sorry! I repent.’ God is a forgiving Father His mercy is greater than our sins. He will forgive us. This is humility: to have the courage to accept such humiliation and receive God’s forgiveness.” (A Life for God, 169)
“Our total surrender will come today by surrendering even our sins so that we will be poor. ‘Unless you become a child you cannot come to me.’ You are too big, too heavy; you cannot be lifted up. We need humility to acknowledge our sin. The knowledge of our sin helps us to rise. I will get up and go to my Father.” (Contemplative at the Heart of the World, 58)
“Self-knowledge puts us on our knees, and it is very necessary for love. For knowledge of God produces love, and knowledge of self produces humility. Self is a very important thing in our lives. As St. Augustine says, ‘Fill yourselves first, and then only will be able to give to others.’ Self-knowledge is also a safeguard against pride, especially when one is tempted later in life. The greater mistake is to think one is too strong to fall into temptation. Put your finger in the fire and it will burn. Don’t play with temptation.” (A Life for God, 172)
“Just one thing counts: to be humble, to pray. The more you pray, the better you will pray. How do you pray? You should go to God like a little child. A child has no difficulty expressing his little mind in simple words which say so much. Jesus said to Nicodemus: ‘Become as a little child.’ If we pray the gospel, we will allow Christ to grow in us.
One thing is necessary for us—--confession. Confession is nothing but humility in action. We called it penance, but really it is a sacrament of love, a sacrament of forgiveness. That is why confession should not be a place in which to talk for long hours about our difficulties. It is a place where I allow Jesus to take away from me everything that divides, that destroys. When there is a gap between me and Christ, when my love is divided, anything can come to fill the gap. We should be very simple and childlike in confession. ‘Here I am as a child going to her Father.’ If a child is not yet spoiled and has not learned to tell lies, he will tell everything. This is what I mean by being childlike. Confession is a beautiful act of great love. Only in confession can we go as sinners with sin and come out as sinners without sin.” (Contemplative at the Heart of the World, 96)
“Even Almighty God cannot fill what is already full. We must be empty if we want God to fill us with His fullness. Our Lady had to be empty before she could be full of grace. She had to declare that she was the handmaid of the Lord before God could fill her. So also we must be empty of all pride, all jealousy, of all selfishness before God can fill us with his love.
We must be able to give ourselves so completely to God that he must be able to possess us. We must ‘Give whatever he takes and take whatever he gives.’
How unlike him we are. How little love, how little compassion, how little forgiveness, how little kindness we have. We are not worthy to be so close to him—--to enter his heart. For his heart is still open to embrace us. His head is still crowned with thorns, his hands nailed to the cross today.
Let us find out: ‘Are the nails mine? That spit on his face, is it mine? What part of his body, of his mind, has suffered because of me?’ We should ask, not with anxiety or fear, but with a meek and humble heart. Let us find out what part of his body has wounds inflicted by our sin. Let us not go alone but put our hands in his. He is there to forgive seventy times seven. Our Father loves us. He has called us in a special way, given us a name. We belong to him with all our misery, our sin, our weakness, our goodness. We are his.” (A Life for God, 182)
“To become holy we need humility and prayer. Jesus taught us how to pray, and he also told us to learn from him to be meek and humble of heart. Neither of these can we do unless we know what is silence. Both humility and prayer grow from an ear, mind, and tongue that have lived in silence with God, for in the silence of the heart God speaks.” (A Life for God, 149)
“With a will that is whole we love God, we opt for him, we run toward him, we reach him, we possess him. Often, under the pretext of humility, of confidence, of abandonment we forget about using our will. But it all depends on these words—--I want or I do not want. I have to pour all of my energy into the words I want.” (A Life for God, 147)
“In his passion Jesus taught us how to forgive out of love, how to forget out of humility. So let us at the beginning of the passion of Christ examine our hearts fully and see if there is any unforgiven hurt or unforgotten bitterness.” (A Life for God, 170)
“With God, nothing is impossible. Our sisters are living proof of that. When I watch them, I receive the infinite greatness of God, a greatness that we can tap into. I see how he can work through us. Because you and I have nothing on our own, we need him. As the Bible says, God waits and looks. Will we respond?
Just consider what God has accomplished through the sisters and the Co-workers scattered throughout the world. We must ponder it in order to admire the greatness of God shown among us. This is not pride. It takes humility to recognize the greatness of God shining through us. Boasting of our greatness before men is pride. Great humility arises when we recognize that it is God’s kindness and his greatness that shows through our hands, our work, and our love because that is the simple truth.
Jesus is the truth that must be shared. All those who have witnessed our work, have been able to see that God is the source. Just as Jesus said, ‘Likewise, when men see your good deeds, they will give praise to your Father who is in heaven’” (see Matthew 5:16). (A Life for God, 175)
Here is how Professor Michael A. Zigarelli, in his book “Faith at Work” explained about meekness:
“When Jesus told the crowd, ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth,’ what did He mean by meek? Tapping the original translation and some other Scriptures will be illuminating. The word translated here as meek is the Greek word praus. It’s a word that’s usually translated as gentle in the New Testament. Therefore, Jesus is not communicating that ‘blessed are the wimpy,’ as we might infer from our contemporary usage of the word meek. Rather, it’s more accurate to interpret the verse as ‘blessed are those of us who are gentle.’
We can go further with this word study. And as we do, we’ll see just how pervasive this teaching is.
The directive toward gentleness is hardly a one-time appeal in the New Testament. It’s anything but an obscure, offhand suggestion. Instead, the Greek root here, prautes (gentleness or humility), shows up in some of the most classic New Testament verses:
· But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness [prautes] and self-control (Galatians 5:22—23 NIV).
· Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness [prautes] and patience (Colossians 3:12 NIV).
· Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently [prautes] (Galatians 6:1 NIV).
· Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness [prautes] and respect (1 Peter 3:15 NIV).
Repeatedly we hear that gentleness should be our calling card. It’s an indicator that the Spirit is at work in our lives. It’s how we are to teach others and how we are to evangelize. It’s nothing less than a distinguishing characteristic of the maturing Christian.
Hard to believe? Here’s even clearer evidence that growing in Christlikeness entails gentleness. Jesus seldom used adjectives to describe Himself. When He did, though, look at the very first descriptor He chose: ‘Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle [praus] and humble in heart’ (Matthew 11:29 NIV).
First and foremost, Jesus called Himself gentle. That’s worth contemplating. To emulate Jesus Christ, consider His disposition. It was gentle. Consider His approach to sinners. It was gentle. Consider how He typically handled conflict and adversity. Gently. Consider how He invited---and continues to invite---people to know God through knowing Him. Gently. He is God’s standard of meekness.
Following Jesus Christ, then, means consistently growing in gentleness. It is to become increasingly meek. That means for many of us, it is to change dispositions--—in some cases, to radically change.” (52-54)
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