Wednesday, 23 November 2016

The Heart Of The Gospel. Part 7.

By Francis Patrick Donnelly


Meekness is properly of the heart; it is the safety valve of anger; it keeps the hot blood of the heart at a normal temperature. Anger, according to St. Thomas, has six daughters. The smallness of the family may excite some surprise, but the great theologian in his usual way shows why they are six and where they keep themselves. Two reside in the heart—wrath and revenge. Three live on the angry lips—the scream which is a confused cry, the abuse which attacks the neighbor, and blasphemy, which execrates God. The last of these unlovely daughters is blows, the latest-born of the children of anger. Meekness has to manage this unruly household, and does it by keeping the heart under its strong sway.

To call the roll of anger's brood will help us to appreciate better the meekness of Christ's Heart. On rare occasions we know that meekness fired His Heart with zeal, put a lash in His hand, and kindled just indignation upon His lips. But, more frequently, the meekness of Christ is displayed in patience and gentleness. There could not be in Christ the sinful strife of passions, but there could be the holy rivalry of virtues. Christ had real feelings and real passions, though not sinful ones. How many times meekness and just indignation struggled for the control of Christ's Heart, and how rarely did the victory go to the latter! St. Mark pictures that struggle for us on one occasion where Christ knew that the Pharisees had determined upon His ruin, and where He forced them by their silence to admit His right to heal upon the Sabbath. "Looking round about them," relates St. Mark, "with anger, being grieved for the blindness of their hearts, He saith to the man: Stretch forth thy hand." That was one occasion out of a multitude where meekness allowed not anger to flame into rebuke, but melted anger into grief.

The Passion shows us meekness winning its greatest triumph in the Heart of Christ. Justice might have summoned legions of Angels, but meekness said to Peter: "Put up thy sword." That is the constant cry of meekness: "Put up thy sword." The silence of Christ in His Passion is another manifestation of His meekness. "When He was reviled, He did not revile; when He suffered, He threatened not." Nor was the silence of Christ the outcome of a want of feeling. He felt every pain, every insult in its full strength. He felt the waves of just anger beating and raging ever, but ever stayed by the unyielding firmness of meekness.

Even in His innermost thoughts during the Passion we may behold His meekness. The frightfulness of the torments to come, the dark deluge of sin, the lavish generosity of His Redemption and its futility in many cases, these were so many motives why His will should complain and rebel, but meekness preferred the shame and won another triumph at the expense of Christ's Heartblood. "Not my will but thine be done," said meekness, with bloody lips. From that dearly bought victory until the end, meekness was "king in the Heart of Christ, and around the throne stood all the fair children of that virtue, as beautiful as the daughters of anger are ugly. There were there silence under lash and cross, the look of longing for the denier, the kiss of peace for the traitor, the prayer of forgiveness for all, the hands fettered forever in the widest embrace of love, the Heart shedding its treasures by every avenue upon the world, giving blood for blows, giving life for death. Teach me, Christ, because Thou art meek of heart!