Meekness, children, is that virtue which keeps in subjection the emotions of anger, which so often arise within us, by sentiments of peace. It keeps the soul calm and tranquil; it makes us act towards our neighbor with sympathy and kindness, and banishes all harshness from our words and actions.
A young gentleman who did not like St. Francis de Sales went one evening to his house and raised a great tumult under the very window of the room where the saint was sitting by making his dogs bark loudly and his servants cry out most insulting words. He did this that he might show his hatred for the saint; but St. Francis seemed not to pay any heed to what he was doing. Seeing that the saint was not in the least disturbed by the noise, the man had the audacity to go into his house, and even into the room where the saint was sitting, and to utter words of the greatest insolence before his very face. Yet the saint made no reply. This made the man still more angry, and he became even more insolent than before, and continued his insulting language till he became exhausted. At length, seeing he could not make the saint angry, he went away.
As soon as he had gone out, the friends of the saint asked him how he had been able to bear so patiently such insolence. St. Francis answered: "It is not because I did not feel it, for in my heart I was much tempted to rise up and order him away; but I have long ago made an agreement with my tongue that when my heart is disturbed it is to not say one word till the angry feeling has died away. It was in this manner that I was able to bear so patiently with him who spoke to me with so much anger." How do we act when insulted? Have we for our enemies only words of love? How often do we not act contrary to the beautiful example of Christ? At the least insults our proud soul blazes forth like so many darts of fire.
Sad to say, many Christians are transformed into furious animals at any inconsiderate word or a harmless joke. Must we not blush with shame when we consider the meekness of our Redeemer? You curse, your Saviour blesses; you wish to annihilate your enemy and Jesus bestows benefits on him. What can you expect from God in life and death when you trample under foot His commandment of loving your enemy? You deprive yourself of the grace and love of God. Your heart has become a home of Satan.
A woman went to a priest to complain of her husband's passion and temper and angry words. The priest who knew that her tongue also was very busy, gave her a small bottle of pure water. "Take this," he said, "and when next your husband gets angry, take a mouthful and you will soon find the value of it; your husband will remain quiet." An opportunity soon presented itself, and she followed the advice she had received; the same a second time, and a third, with the marvelous results that were promised ! Returning to thank the priest for what she considered a miraculous water, he said: "There's no miracle in the water: your own tongue has done the good by keeping silence for once; the only merit the water has is to have forced you to keep silence, for you were unable to talk whilst you had your mouth full."
The beautiful example of our Saviour teaches us how we should behave when the passions of others fall upon us and we are made the butt of accusations, just or unjust. How worldly is not your conduct on such occasions; the world counts it true valor and justice to give tit for tat, to take tooth for tooth, and eye for eye. A calm denial or a dignified silence is the Christian way, the better way. One word brings on another, you would act like the Jews who began to throw stones-r-you bring about deadly feuds, bodily injuries and perhaps bloodshed and the jail. A cow kicked a lantern over and Chicago was on fire for days. Some frivolous accusation that you pick up, while you should let it fall, starts within, you a fire of anger that makes a ruin for your whole spiritual life and throws disorder all around you. Peace flies from your homes, your social surroundings, your own hearts; the very horrors of hell are around you. Christian charity has been wounded to death and the slightest of blows has done it. One-half of the sins of the world would be done away with if only the lesson of this Gospel were taken to heart and put into practice.
There was once a shepherd boy named David who lived out on the hills day and night, taking care of his father's sheep. He was living so happily, singing and playing his harp. At the same time there lived a king in the city near by, who was as sad as David was joyful. The king lived in a great, beautiful palace, his robes were made of purple and gold, and he feasted on the finest food in the land—yet he was filled with sadness.
"What shall we do for him ?" the people asked. "What will make our king happy again and brave, as he used to be?" A soldier who remembered the shepherd boy out on the hills proposed to send for him. The people could hardly wait for him to come, for they learned that he played a harp and sang so well. This was their last hope of curing the king.
At last David came, his golden hair shining, his face full of joy. His harpstrings were twined with sweet, fresh lilies to keep the strings from breaking in the heat. Do you think he was afraid? He was only a boy, you know. All the people were watching him as he approached the tent where the king lay sick. He was not afraid of the lion that stole the lamb. Whom did he trust to help him then? So now again he trusted God to help him cure the great king. For a moment he knelt in prayer upon the sand outside the tent, then lifting the tent curtain he went in, saying: "Here is David, thy servant." There was darkness, but in the middle of the tent he saw something very dark, an object moving about. It was the king, miserable and half dead leaning upon the wooden bar which went across the tent.
Quickly David took the lilies off the harpstrings and began to play. He played first the tune all the sheep knew, soft and sweet, which brought them home one after another as the stars come out. Then he played other tunes. At last the great figure moved. He moved his head, and the red and blue jewels flashed. And as David began to sing about the king, the wonderful soldier he had been, the king stood up and laid one of his large hands on the boy's head. He was better, David knew, but not well yet. Throwing aside his harp, he began again to sing. He sang about God now, of His love for animals, and of His love for us. It was such a wonderful song, it filled the whole tent with joy and gladness.
When David finished that song he stole quietly out of the tent and ran home in the night, joyfully, oh, so joyfully, for he knew that king Saul was well again. He was the great, brave king he used to be; the shepherd boy had cured him.
We cannot play the harp or sing as David did, but we can all have joyful, shining faces such as his was, and be as meek and as humble. Shall we try to see how bright and cheerful we can look? Remember how one happy boy healed a great, wretched king, and see what we can do.
Fortify yourselves with the armor of holy meekness, and whe ever you are insulted, should you be tempted to take revenge, take immediate recourse to prayer and say: "For the love of you, O Jesus, I will forgive with my whole heart.” The true Christian wards off, he does not give the thrust, he does not shoot back. He pities his enemies for the evil they do; he forgives them and prays for them, as our Lord has commanded. This is Christian charity and humility as well.
Source: Story Sermonettes for the Children's Mass, Imprimatur 1921