By Rev. Ray Atwood

People with a Gentle Heart

Seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, a Greek slave named Aesop compiled a collection of stories we now know as “Aesop’s Fables.” One of them deals with a dispute between the sun and the wind. A man dressed in a coat walked down a deserted road. The sun and the wind made a bet about which could make the man remove his coat faster. The wind blew furiously, but the more he blew, the more the man held tightly to his coat. Then the sun let his glorious rays shine until the man slowly took off his coat. The message: “You can achieve more by gentleness than by violence.”

Gentleness is one of the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:22-23). Unfortunately this is not regarded as highly as it used to be. That’s because people sometimes mistake gentleness for weakness. There was a time when the best compliment you could give a man was to call him a “gentleman.” But today violence is more popular than gentleness. Television had given violence a widespread audience because violence gets high ratings. And violence can be spiritual or emotional as well as physical.

Our Lord invites His disciples to come to Him and He promises rest from the burdens of life. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart,” He says. “And you will find rest for yourselves for my yoke is easy and by burden light” (Mt. 11:25-30). Jesus was a gentleman and He calls us to respond to peoples’ needs as the sun did in the famous Aesop fable, with gentle warmth and love toward each other.

Our nation is not only an economic and military superpower (the last on earth). But it is a moral and spiritual force unique in its constitution and history. As we celebrate the birth of our nation and the summer season, may we pray that the United States is known as the land of the free, the home of the brave, and a nation whose people are meek and humble of heart.