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  • Fr. Tom Knoblach

Who Do You Say That I Am? - Part 15


XV. Pope Benedict postpones the second Beatitude to focus on the third: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Jesus here quotes Psalm 37:11, and the focus here is on what meekness truly means: not weak or powerless and thus passive, but manifesting a different kind of power: humility and service, renouncing worldly power (a chariot) and choosing a donkey for His kingly entry to Jerusalem and the throne of the Cross. This kind of power is open to all, and thus a truly universal Kingdom is presented through this meekness.

Further, Jesus says this meekness leads to inheriting the land. Tracing Israel’s history in the Exodus and its failures denounced by the prophets, Pope Benedict presents this promise as intrinsically linked to the right worship of God, accepting the Lord’s sovereignty. Failure to do so in various idolatries led to their exile; so inheriting the land required authentic worship in spirit and in truth (as John 4:23 makes explicit). This frees “the land” from a mere geographic reference and makes every place open to God’s people, no longer bound by national borders but a world at peace despite human differences because it belongs entirely to God.

This also interprets the seventh Beatitude about peacemakers. The Roman Caesar Augustus claimed to be the great peacemaker and “the savior of the human race”; this fact is reflected by Luke’s infancy narrative, contrasting the two kinds of salvation of the Emperor and Jesus the Redeemer. David’s son Solomon also means “bringer of peace”; but while he failed to create a lasting earthly realm, Jesus brings true peace with God and others. To follow His path, then, is the way to peace in our own lives and through us, God’s peace is brought into a troubled world.

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