When children are little and around a breakable object or a younger sibling, parents often say to the child, “Be gentle!” intending for them to take care or act softly or kindly. So what is Christ calling us to do when we are told to “be gentle” in the scriptures?
Gentleness can take several forms. We can be gentle with our words, our actions, and how we treat and forgive others. To be gentle is not to be weak, but rather requires great strength and self-control. It is no coincidence that both gentleness and self-control are two of the Fruits of the Spirit given to us by St. Paul in Galatians 22. Multiple times in the Scriptures we are told to exhibit gentleness, such as in Ephesians 4: 2-3 where St. Paul says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
When we think about Christ and His manner and actions, He exhibited great gentleness. One example is with the Samaritan woman at the well and another, in the Gospel of John, when the adulterous woman is brought to Christ by the Pharisees who want to have her stoned. In John 8:7, Christ says, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” In this scene, gentleness, humility, and great mercy are shown by Christ. We are called to live a life striving to be saints or “the holy,” those who are set aside for God, and therefore our actions have to be different from those of the world. So let us pray that God helps us to have the humility and self-control that it takes to “be gentle” in everything we do! Lord, have mercy on us!