Words have a way of conveying great meanings but some words are very special
and convey a depth of meaning that enrich not only our lexicon but also our very
souls. There is a word that I specially like when the concept appears in the Scriptures
and especially in the Gospels. Such a word is MAGNANIMITY. This is a word
we rarely use in our regular contact with one another or in conversations. Magnanimity
comes from two Latin words: MAGNUM and ANIMA. We know what is magnum:
great or large. ANIMA is also from the Latin word for the soul and therefore a magnanimous
person is one who has a large soul, so to speak, a little more than just having
a big heart that we so often use. Again, it is not in use in our regular conversation but
you get the idea of what I am trying to say around this wonderful word.
I was thinking of such a word when I was reading the Scriptures for this Sunday.
In Moses (Deut. 30: 10-14) God extended his generosity and magnanimity to the
people of Israel, as he reminds them, again and again, of the great wonders God has
worked with them and for them in the sojourn of forty years in the desert, since they
were freed from the oppression of the Pharaoh in Egypt. In the Gospel of Matthew
this Sunday (Mat. 10: 25-37) we see the incarnation of the virtue of MAGNANIMITY
in the healing and in the action of the Good Samaritan who stops and comes to the
rescue of a wounded man, robbed and beaten on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.
One needs to have a Large Soul to be prompted almost naturally to aid a stranger, a
foreigner, since he is a foreigner himself, coming from the idol contaminated race and
land of Samaria. But this Samaritan traveler, stops, cares to the extreme, bandages the
wounds of the man attacked by robbers, places him on his own animal, and takes
him to the nearest inn. And even pays the innkeeper for the wounded man, offering
to pay more on his way back if his expenses are higher. Now, that is a MAN WITH A
LARGE SOUL, there is a man of MAGNANIMITY. No wonder Jesus declared him as
a MODEL of a good neighbor.
Will we be disposed to act likewise? Will we be willing to go the extra mile when
the circumstances require it? Will we be willing to offer that hospitality and place of
welcome by our words or actions? It is tough. We see the poor, the vulnerable, the
broken every day in our office when the St. Vincent de Paul Society members come,
day after day, to help those who have called asking for help for rent, for medicines,
for electricity. They are the poor among us. And they are many. At times we do not
do well with them. We are all products of our upbringing, categories, our biases. But
they are always there, reminding us of what is essential, and that we are all just passing
through and on our way to our final destination. They allow us to practice many
virtues. We should thank them instead of turning our backs on them. In all these instances,
we are invited to have a large heart, MAGNANIMITY of soul. I think all of
us are called to excel in that virtue that Jesus placed before us in the Parable of the
Jesus calls all to unexpected and unmeasured degrees of generosity that help and
serve simply because help and service are needed. Such generosity and magnanimity
look to the person in need rather than to the ethnicity or deservedness or ability
to reciprocate our favor. A truly magnanimous and generous person is able to suspend
judgment, and just see the broken Christ in front of us, difficult many times but not
impossible. God's Grace is also there for the asking. A magnanimous person looks beyond
past faults or offenses received in family or friends, through betrayal of feelings
of love and trust. We often carry a big load of past faults by people who have offended
us, and we carry in our souls the sin of unforgiveness. It is a heavy load to carry.
When we come together as a Community of Faith we are invited by the Lord Jesus to
be free of such heaviness. After all, it is not life giving, quite the contrary it poisons
the very relationship we deem most important in our life: Our relationship with God.
Problems, difficulties, obstacles, betrayals, bad company, injustices committed
against us in our jobs, disappointments with family or friends, may put a damper on
your magnanimous and generous heart and your outpouring of unconditional love. It
is to be expected. Nasty people, evil structures, bad situations, and faulty genes make
LOVE difficult but not unnatural. Every single person is an occasion of grace for us, an
invitation to fulfill our natural instinct to love, to be loved, to help and be helped, to
connect at the base with our fellow human beings. That is to be A GOOD SAMARITAN.
May God's Peace be with you always,