Reflection: Jesus is thinking here of Psalm 37: “Do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. A little while, and the wicked will be no more. But the meek will inherit the land” (Psalm 37:7-11).
‘Meek’ means gentle—not in the sense of having a ‘mild-mannered’ personality but in the sense of “refraining from wrath” in the face of unjust power. Many in Jesus’ audience will have been thinking of the unjust power of the Romans—occupiers of the land of Israel since 63BC. The temptation was to fight back; and many did. But Jesus says it is the ‘meek’ who will receive God’s promise of the ‘earth’ or ‘land’.
At one level there is a profound truth for here and now. Recent studies show that non-violent resistance against tyrannical regimes is twice as effective as violent means at creating positive change. Jesus, of course, means much more. Ancient Israel’s promise of ‘land’ finds its ultimate fulfilment in God’s promise of a new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1-4). Who are the truly blessed people that will inherit this new earth? It is those who have first acknowledged their ‘poverty of spirit’ (and found God’s grace), and who then follow the path of meekness, leaving the outcome to our faithful God.
Question: How do you respond to the harsh criticism and sidelining of the church today? Do you retaliate in kind, or follow the path of meekness?