We have to defend the land we are set to inherit ...
Pope Francis says that to be meek as the Beatitudes invite us, is to remember that our inheritance is “the most sublime of territories,” and to do what it takes to protect that inheritance. “He is the disciple of Christ who has learned to defend a quite different land. He defends his peace, he defends his relationship with God, he defends his gifts, God’s gifts, guarding mercy, fraternity, trust, hope.”
The pope said this at the February 19 general audience, as he took up the third Beatitude: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
The Holy Father began with noting that true meekness proves itself in moments of conflict, as the meekness of Christ was shown especially before Pilate and during the Passion.
He also noted the interesting relationship between meekness and possessing land, as both Psalm 37 and the Beatitude indicate.
These two things, if we think about them carefully, seem incompatible. Indeed, possession of land is the typical context for conflict: one often fights over a territory, to protect one’s hegemony over a certain zone. In wars the strongest prevails and conquers other lands.
However, the Beatitude is not about conquering land, but rather inheriting it, in the same way the People of God speak of the land of Israel as the Promised Land, the “inheritance.”
That land is a promise and a gift for the people of God, and becomes a sign of something much larger than a simple territory. There is a “land” – permit me the play on words – which is Heaven, that is the land towards which we walk: the new heavens and the new earth towards which we go (cf. Is 65: 17; 66: 2; 2 Pt 3: 13; Rev 21: 1).
So, explained Pope Francis, the person who is meek “‘inherits’ the most sublime of territories. … He is a person who has received an inheritance and does not want to waste it.”
Anger in contrast to meekness
Pope Francis warned against the opposite of meekness, the “sin of anger,” which destroys instead of unites. With meekness, there is another “land” that we can inherit, the pope said, the land of human hearts.
A moment of anger can destroy many things; one loses control and does not evaluate what is really important, and one can ruin the relationship with a brother, sometimes without remedy. As a result of anger, many brothers no longer speak to each other, they distance themselves from each other. It is the opposite of meekness. Meekness brings together, anger separates. Meekness is the conquest of many things. Meekness is capable of winning the heart, saving friendships and much more, because people anger but then they calm down, think about it and go back over their footsteps, and so you can rebuild with meekness. The “land” to be conquered with meekness is the salvation of that brother of whom the Gospel of Matthew himself speaks: “If he listens to you, you have gained your brother” (Mt 18: 15). There is no land more beautiful than the heart of others, there is no land more beautiful to gain than the peace found with a brother. And that is the land to inherit with meekness!