In today’s Gospel, we hear those gracious words of Jesus: ‘Learn from me to be gentle and humble in heart’. The ‘heart’ that is the secret Jesus is revealing to us in these encouraging words – if our heart is not at rights with God, then our thoughts and words and actions cannot be rightly motivated. These words of Jesus recorded in today’s Gospel seem to be the only ones recorded in which Jesus says specifically – ‘Learn from me…’.
Rather surprisingly, he doesn’t say; ‘Learn from me how to pray or how to spread the Good News’, BUT ‘Learn from me to be gentle and humble in heart’.
True gentleness and humility are qualities so precious and so beautiful, so awe inspiring as to defy adequate definition in any dictionary. They are not sentimental watery qualities, on the contrary, the truly gentle and humble, possess great strength of character and are very genuine and wholesome people.
There are so many instances in the Gospels of the gentleness of Jesus in the way we normally conceive of this virtue – but when we reflect on Jesus calling Herod a fox, or addressing Peter as Satan, and the Pharisees as hypocrites, we wonder what kind of gentleness is this? This is where we see the ‘balance’ of the genuinely gentle and humble person coming into play – Jesus says ‘learn from me. Learning requires a strong application of our mind and will but especially it needs a good teacher – and as Cardinal Hume once said: ‘example is the best of teachers. Meditating on the life of Jesus and that of so many of his faithful followers in all walks of life through the centuries, is a great encouragement to us. In our own lives too, many of us have been touched by the true gentleness of others - this fills us with deep gratitude to God and inspires in us the courage we need to respond to Jesus’ invitation in today’s Gospel.
Each day, let us dedicate ourselves anew to walk hand in hand with Jesus, so that listening with our heart to his words, we may learn to know his immense love which calls us to live his gentleness and humility in joy as well as in pain. Thus we carry within us the whole world which has so much pain in it. As has been wisely said, it is the heart not the head that is the home of the Gospel.
What truly blessed words of Jesus, what an immense plea from his own most Sacred Heart - ‘Learn from me…’. and you will find rest for your souls.
Ordination of brs. Colm Mannion OP and Luuk Jansen OP - As short impression of the ordination earlier this summer:
6 months ago