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Jul 26, 2013

Blessed are the gentle (meek) for they shall inherit the earth.  Matthew 5:5

Earlier this week, I heard one of my colleagues mention this beatitude.  It caught me in a way that I hadn’t quite heard before.  I began to wonder about it – what could it mean for us today? 

What is it to be gentle?  I know a gentle lawyer.  That’s right, you heard me, a lawyer - more precisely, a law professor.  Ted believes the law is designed to serve the people, to care for them, in a sense.  Ted has had anything but a gentle life as his father died when he was young, and his mother’s health was so poor that she was sent to live in an institution.  Ted lived in an orphanage for a while before family came to claim him.  Then he was sent to live with a number of families before finally landing with one that loved him.  Just when it seemed that things were looking better, the mother in that family passed away.   Despite of his tough beginnings, Ted exhibits thoughtful, genuine care for people in his life.

The gentle people I know are those who know themselves, their strengths, their weaknesses, their sense of purpose, and what they bring to this community on earth.  They remember who they are - children of a God who loves them relentlessly, ceaselessly, full-out. They don’t have to prove anything to anybody.  They are grounded and balanced in their lives.

What does it mean to “inherit the earth?”  At this time of the summer, the local farmers’ markets are already teaming with the fruits and vegetables of the earth.  In a sense we’ve already inherited the earth through the wonderful gifts this planet bestows on us.  When you inherit something, it is passed on to you, generally by someone who at least knows you, perhaps even loves you. The one who provides the inheritance often wishes that you will use their gifts well.   It seems God wishes to pass on the earth to those who are gentle, those who will care for her. 

In the Native American way, the Earth is alive and has Spirit.  The Earth cares for us.  Perhaps God understands that those who are gentle are capable of relationships, deep, genuine, purposeful relationships.  How are we in relationship with the Earth?  Are we a gentle partner in the relationship?  Do we listen to the messages of the Earth?  Have we learned how to speak her language?  Do we understand that the waters are her life blood and that how we treat the land and the water has a direct affect, not only on us humans, but on the plants and animals that live here, as well?

At CTU we offer a special concentration in the MA in Justice Ministry degree on Environmental Justice.  Students can take courses such as Care for the Earth; Catholic Environmental Ethics; Creation and Eschatology; Ecology and Spiritual Practice; and Ethics, Spirituality, Global Climate Change, to name just a few.   The degree program and courses provide a way for people to become educated, skilled partners in relationship with Earth.  As you enjoy the inheritance of the Earth this summer through the abundance she provides, perhaps you will consider learning how to walk more gently upon the Earth and begin something new.  Why not consider taking a course or beginning a degree in Environmental Justice?   http://www.ctu.edu/academics/master-arts-justice-ministry

Kathy Van Duser, Director of Recruitment | kvanduser@ctu.edu | 773-371-5450