The eight points of the Maltese Cross represent the eight Beatitudes
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” Most translations use the word meek for the third Beatitude. This word is challenging for me. I am an extravert. Meek would not be a word that I would think of in describing myself. Meekness is not a word that appeals to me. It seems dangerous to be meek. A meek person would not stand up for what is right. They would be taken advantage of. However, the two Bibles that I use with the youngest of our community come from the Good News Translation, which chooses the word “humble” in place of meek. Humility is a virtue that I see value in cultivating. A humble person does not boast. They do not seek fame. They do not put themselves above others. You may feel that this is just semantics and these phrases would also describe a meek person, but please allow me to go further into humble- the word that speaks to me.
I have been reading “The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World”. This book was written by Douglas Abrams while conducting a week long interview with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. (It is a wonderful book that I would highly recommend). One of the Eight Pillars of Joy that they identify is humility. I would like to take some pieces from that chapter to break apart. Archbishop Tutu explains, “Humility is the recognition that your gifts are from God, and this lets you sit relatively loosely to those gifts.” This fits well with the Beatitudes. We are humble because although we may have done a lot of work cultivating our gifts; the gifts were first given to us. I love the image of “sitting loosely” with my gifts. Take a moment a picture what that would look like for you. Maybe if we can “sit loosely” we won’t be so invested in our own success. The Archbishop goes on to say, “Humility allows us to celebrate the gifts of others, but it does not mean you have to deny your own gifts or shrink from using them.” Living the Beatitudes takes away the competition; we want the best for all. That may mean I follow you or that you follow me. Probably it would be a little of both and a lot of walking side by side. Lastly, the Archbishop said, “God uses each of us in our own way, and even if you are not the best one, you may be the one who is needed or the one who is there”. That is a humbling thought. Just because you are the one being used, it doesn’t mean that you are #1. God didn’t call the best of the best. He calls all and uses who answers.
Whether you long to be meek or humble if we live out these virtues we are promised a great reward. In the beautiful song, “We are the Light of the World” the songwriter, Jean Greif, used both meek and humble. I would encourage you to listen at https://youtu.be/77Qa7iOLdMU. If you want a less contemporary version there are others available on youtube.com.