The meek shall inherit the earth.
Jesus wasn’t the only one to say that. He framed it with blessing in the Beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-12), but it’s in Psalm 37 and a similar idea can be found elsewhere in the Bible and other sacred texts. It’s certainly become prolific in popular culture.
But Jesus frames it with blessing.
It doesn’t have the feel of blessing, though. Neither being meek or inheriting this earth, as we know it, feels much like a blessing these days. I don’t suppose it was then, either, and I suspect there was a little confusion, even push back, among his listeners that day. We just hear the pronouncement of blessing, but I wonder how many people thought - and maybe even said - what do you mean by that?
Well, I think Jesus would say, you are blessed, just as you. You are a child of God, a gift to the world and a worthy part of creation, just as you are. I’m going to keep reminding you. All of you. That’s where you begin. Now, let’s talk about the meek and the earth.
If it seems like I’m turning things on their head, says Jesus, I am. This might seem like a radical shift in thinking for us because of what we’ve experienced, but Jesus is trying to bring us back to God’s ways, the way of living from those first days when all was good. People have turned things around and become hard hearted and power hungry. People want to collect meaningless stuff and dominate others and the earth. But listen to this.
We’ve learned that to be meek is to be shy, weak and submissive. Just like we think of vulnerability, it’s a weakness, a failure of spirit. But, also like vulnerability, it’s not. When Jesus talks about the meek, I think he means those whose strength is cloaked in humility, whose empathy and gentleness are super powers with which they serve the world around them. The meek are patient and kind, not self-serving, not easy to anger, they look for what is true and and are open and aware of the world around them. Jesus, I think, might well describe the meek in a similar way to how Paul famously describes love in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor.13), because love is the root of their strength.
As Jesus brings them into focus with this blessing, I think we can see why the meek inherit the earth. When our hearts are open to the world around us, when we live in the love which is there, we are connected. We are meek and vulnerable and strong and we are connected.
Again, in bringing us back to God, Jesus is bringing us back into relationship with God wherever God is. And that’s everywhere: in ourselves, in each other, in the earth. For each of us, it’s literally “all my relations.” The divine spirit can be found in all things because its life and love and we are of the divine spirit and of the earth, doubly blessed.
Perhaps that’s why, at first, it may not feel like much of a blessing. So many of our relationships feel broken, unattended or out of control, it’s overwhelming. Perhaps the best place to begin is where Jesus begins, again and again: simply blessed to be.