By Sister Cheryl Jacobs

Matthew 5:5 – Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

A song about the Beatitudes I especially enjoy is A City on a Hill by The City Harmonic. The song highlights the irony in this verse with the line:

Blessed are the meek, with the world at your feet.

I found many definitions for “meek:”

quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive

deficient in spirit and courage

not willing to argue or express your opinions in a forceful way

overly submissive or compliant; tame

And meek was almost always paired with mild. Just like in the old Charles Wesley hymn for children, Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild.

Not surprisingly given many of these definitions, the use of the word “meek” has significantly decreased in the last 200 years. These days, our culture encourages us to be anything but meek; rather to be self-confident, self-assured, and assertive to get what we “deserve.”

Briefly setting aside the fact that word meanings change over time, we may wonder why Jesus would even use this word within these Blessed statements.

Jesus was not “easily imposed on,” nor “deficient in spirit and courage,” and certainly not “tame!”

But here are some other definitions:

enduring injury with patience and without resentment

humbly patient or quiet in nature, as under provocation from others

I am taken with the First Nations Version rendering of this beatitude: “Creator’s blessing rests on the ones who walk softly and in a humble manner. The earth, land, and sky will welcome them and always be their home.

And while Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild will never be on my list of favourite hymns, there is a lesson in the sixth verse:

Thou didst live to God alone; 

thou didst never seek thine own;

thou thyself didst never please: 

God was all thy happiness.

A key Scripture verse in my faith journey is from the prophet Micah: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (6:8)

Perhaps Jesus was making the point for even us today, that in a culture, a world, where meekness is looked down on, perhaps a people walking humbly with their God and quietly, patiently, kindly, and meekly bringing justice, will create a beautiful light that “shines like a city on a hill … for all the world to believe.”

Jesus, teach us to be meek.