Wednesday of the Second Week of Advent – Option 1 – Mt 11:28-30
Today’s first reading from Isaiah repeatedly emphasizes the greatness of God’s power and strength: “By his great might and the strength of his power” all creatures obey Him, and God Himself “does not faint nor grow weary.” He lets His creatures share in that power when “He gives strength to the fainting,” and “renews the strength” of those who hope in Him.
Although it might not be immediately apparent, today’s Gospel also speaks of strength, in the new and fullest sense that Christ gives to it. The Greek word for meek is πραΰς; it uses a very difficult-to-translate root (pra-) which means more than just “meek” in the English sense. Biblical meekness is not weakness but rather refers to exercising God’s strength under His control, that is, demonstrating power without undue harshness. It has a twofold meaning at once as strong as iron, yet as gentle as a feather. Saint Francis de Sales further elucidates this Biblical meekness when he says “there is nothing as strong as true meekness; there is nothing as gentle as true strength.”
The two virtues Christ points out, humility and meekness, are essential for our lives. As Saint Francis de Sales explains, “Humility makes our lives acceptable to God, meekness makes us acceptable to men.” “Humility makes our lives acceptable to God, meekness makes us acceptable to men.” When we humbly submit ourselves to Christ, God gives us the strength to face the everyday battles that tend to weary us and tire us out, especially those internal battles to control our tempers and our words. This is challenging, and, as a testimony to this, only two Biblical figures are qualified as meek: Jesus, and Moses.
Part of this humble submission is to accept God’s providence in whatever form it takes, since God’s providence is the most concrete expression of His love for us. It also means knowing and exercising restraint when we get angry and to not give in to the agitation and disturbance that come when things don’t go our way.
Regarding the first, Saint Francis de Sales recounts that “when St. Vincent de Paul felt inclined to anger, he would refrain from speaking and from acting, and above all, he would not make any decisions until the feelings of anger were under complete control. He used to say that actions, though apparently good, when done while in a state of agitation are not fully directed by reason and hence cannot be perfect. Therefore in these instances, in spite of the heat of anger, and pretexts of zeal, we must utter nothing but kind and affable words in order to win our neighbor to God.”
Regarding the second, St. Francis de Sales never allowed himself to act hastily. When someone asked him why, he replied, “You ask me how I can remain calm and not become upset when those around me are all bustling about. What can I say . . . ? I didn’t come into the world to agitate it. Isn’t it agitated enough already?”
Today, let us pray, through the intercession of Mary, Our Lady of Expectation, for the graces of humility and meekness, so that we can imitate Christ even in difficult or trying moments.