By Debbie Shelley

The Catholic Commentator  

Living out the beatitude “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” assures people that if they put their lives under the control of God, they will see the promise of the kingdom of heaven come to earth, according to Father Eddie Martin, parochial vicar at St. Aloysius Church in Baton Rouge.  

Father Martin said the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the beatitudes show the inner heart of Jesus and provides a perfect model of meekness. It states, “The beatitudes depict the countenance of Jesus Christ and portray his charity …. they are the paradoxical promises that sustain hope in the midst of tribulations; they proclaim the blessings and rewards already secured, however dimly, for Christ’s disciples …”  

Jesus constantly called people to adopt an attitude of meekness, Father Martin said. In Matthew 18:3, when the disciples approached Jesus and asked who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, he called a child over, placed it in their midst and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Likewise in Matthew 11:25, Jesus says, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.”  

“That speaks so much to our society today,” said Father Martin. “I’m finding we’re becoming more and more of an empirical society that wants proof of everything. If you can’t believe the proof, it’s just some fairytale or superstition you have to help you get over your mortality when you realize you aren’t going to live forever. If you can’t feel, see, touch, categorize it, define its molecular breakdown, it’s not real. I don’t think you can scientifically classify such an important (spiritual) truth.”  

Father Martin said in the Scriptures, the Lord clearly says there’s the realm of the visible and invisible.  

“It’s the invisible things that endure, the visible is transitory. We’re all going to be gone one day, including every person we love. It (the transitory) is not what we are supposed to put our faith in. I think that’s what (Jesus) means by meek.”  

Father Martin said the roots of the word “meek” go back to the word “praus” which means mild or gentle.  

“In this dog-eat-dog world it’s ‘hoard as much stuff as you can accumulate,’ ” said Father Martin.  

“I think it starts when we are babies. The world ends at the end of our nose – feed me, change me, entertain me, nothing else matters.”  

The virtue of meekness calls for the opposite, Father Martin emphasized.   

“If we follow the teachings of Christ, the No. 1 thing the Catholic Church teaches is to die to self and live for others,” said Father Martin. “It takes a unique person to do this in a world where people want to ‘conquer the world and everything in it and ‘get a chunk of the pie and defend my turf.’  

“The meek people aren’t worried about the things of the world – they seek the world to come, where there’s no more pain and death and justice reigns – the promised kingdom Jesus talked about so much.”  

Far from being soft minded or willed, meek people know how to “let go and let God” control their lives. And this is counter-cultural, he noted.  

“We’re in a natural fallen state where it’s all about me,” said Father Martin. “We’ve got to ‘virtualize’ ourselves out of that … we need to be totally selfless and totally giving.  

“It’s truly better to give than to receive, and the meek understand that. It’s not that they are pushovers, it’s not that they are inactive, that they are hiding in the shadows and don’t want to make changes. It’s that they are not tooting their own horn and saying, ‘Hey, look at me.’ ”  

He said two role models in his life concerning meekness include Donald “Speedy” Gonzales, deceased, and wife Helen.  

Father Martin, who grew up down the street from the Gonzales and recently celebrated “Speedy” Gonzales’ funeral, said the couple’s lives were a testimony in giving.  

“They were forever bringing people in need into their home,” said Father Martin.  

He said “Speedy” Gonzales performed at nursing homes with a Cajun dance troupe, helped load emergency supplies at Red Cross warehouses and was an active organizer at the 40 Days for Life events.  

The Gonzales’ daughter, Sister Drita Maris, is a sister of the Missionaries of Charity.  

Another one of Father Martin’s role models is his father. His family refers to him as “pure love walking with arms and legs.” He is always eager to serve and steers conversations away from being about himself to the person he is talking to.  

“He has a pure joy of being a servant to others. He is utterly content and at peace because he’s doing what the Lord has called him to do,” said Father Martin.  

The best way to cultivate such meekness, according to Father Martin, is to simply ask  God, “What is it you want me to do today?”  

“The things I tell people in confession so much, especially when it’s about envy, gossip and judging others: We all look at people who are better than us,” said Father Martin. “They say, ‘This one is more intelligent; this one is more eloquent; this one is much more handsome or a better athlete.’ There’s always going to be someone better than us in every aspect.  

“The problem is we tend to think there’s something wrong with us or we’re flawed because we are not the best. But God doesn’t need us to be the best in all these things. He makes no mistakes. He’s given us the right amount of intelligence, eloquence, looks, athletic skills, whatever characteristic you want to talk about, to do what he wants us to accomplish in this world. He has great things in store for all of us. The problem is we don’t want to fit in our mold, we want to fit in someone else’s mold. That creates friction and unhappiness in us.”  

Father Martin assures people that God has good things in store for them. 

“But it’s not by setting the world on fire, but by showing up and saying ‘God, how can I be your arms and legs today? Please show me.’  

“That’s all it takes. You don’t have to climb a mountain or even look as you’re going down the road God wants you to go down and say, ‘Oh, no. I’m not going through that part of town or that mountain is too steep – you must need someone else to take that path.’ No, he’s right there with you. You just take the next step, take a deep breath in and breathe out, left foot, right foot and trust him with an Our Father Lord’s Prayer: “ ’Give me this day my daily bread, whatever I need to get through this moment of this day. I trust you Lord,’ ” Father Martin said.