“Happy are the gentle; they shall have the earth for their heritage.”
I will always remember the words my dear parents often told my siblings and me with gratitude. “Be always gentle to yourselves and to others. Gentleness that comes from the heart always has a great reward.” And I would like to express a unique note of appreciation to my mother who died when she was 45 years old and I was nine.
People who knew her well remember her as “the gentle woman,” not just “a gentle woman.” The article they used, the, is more definite and emphatic than a. Thinking back to the few years I spent with her, and how my family described her, I would say that gentleness was her lifestyle and her strength.
She was always attentive to the needs of our family members and of other people, trying to figure out how to help and meet their needs. She used the words “please, sorry and thank you” before God and others. I wish that those who read this article may learn from what I have fondly written about her. May they also be attracted by the reward that God gives the gentle: the earth as their heritage.
The World And Gentleness
If we consider the common mentality we have in the world, we notice that gentleness is a word that people erased from their personal dictionaries. In fact, many live in the area of the flesh wounded by sin; self-indulgence rules this domain with the following results: “fornication, gross indecency and sexual irresponsibility; idolatry and sorcery; feuds and wrangling, jealousy, bad temper and quarrels; disagreements, factions, envy; drunkenness, orgies and similar things” (Gal 5:19-21). With such behavior, a person can sink deeper in sin and travel the road to aggression. Consequently, gentleness is ignored and eventually despised.
To learn gentleness, our call is to enter the world of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal 5:22-23). According to Paul, gentleness is one of the elements that characterize the world of the Spirit. I believe that a touch of gentleness is present in all the other elements, allowing itself to grow in the heart of those who dwell in this world.
The Fruit Of The Holy Spirit
We understand that Jesus taught us to be more gentle, as He tells us: “Learn from me: for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Mt 11:29).We see this behavior when He enters Jerusalem with His disciples: “Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey” (Mt 21:5; Zech 9:9).
The gentleness presented by the second Beatitude is not a gift of nature. A naturally gentle person can become aggressive when situations become tough. Gentleness in this case is the fruit of the Spirit; the gentleness that remains active even in difficult moments.
In the Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, Pope Francis says: “He (Paul) suggests that if a wrongful action of one of our brothers or sisters troubles us, we should try to correct them, but always ‘with a spirit of meekness’, since ‘you too could be tempted’ (Gal 6:1). Even when we defend our faith and convictions, we are to do so ‘with meekness’ (1Pet 3:16). Our enemies too should be treated ‘with meekness’ (2Tim 2:25).
Why are we called to be gentle with all people at all times? The best reason is this: God is always gentle towards us. I remember the day I was upset and even angry at the evil deeds done by some political and religious leaders; I went to our little chapel to pray in order to process my inner disturbance and anger before the Lord. As I was doing that, I had the sensation that the Lord asked, “Tell me, how do I treat you?” I answered, “Always with gentleness and love.” He told me to “Act the same way with all people”.
May the intercession of Mary help us obtain the gift of gentleness rooted in Jesus.