Where has magnanimity gone? PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 29 June 2018 14:09



INDEED, where has this virtue gone? It has been missing for quite a while. Let’s hope it has not become extinct yet. We actually need it especially these days when we seem to be deteriorating into a world of constant quarreling, bashing, slamming, fault-finding, mudslinging, gossiping, backbiting, sowing intrigue and discord everywhere…

Mr. Webster defines magnanimity as “loftiness of spirit, enabling one to bear trouble calmly, to disdain meanness and pettiness, and to display a noble generosity.” What we are seeing these days are precisely its opposite: a lot of meanness, pettiness, instant irritation at the slightest sign of provocation.

Because of its absence, the environment has become quite toxic, the general atmosphere quite tense. There is a palpable bad spirit of distrust and suspicion, of simmering anguish if not of open hatred.

The magnanimity as shown to us by Christ has to be recovered. Remember St. Peter telling us of him: “He (Christ) did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered.

He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.” (1 Pt 2,23) This is the essence of magnanimity.

In another instance, the same St. Peter also said: “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Pt 3,9) St. Paul reiterated the same point when he said: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom 12,21)

Christ himself, the epitome of magnanimity, taught us to “love even your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. (Lk 6,27-28)

He continued by saying, “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them…Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Lk 6,29-31)

That is how magnanimity is. And we simply have to convince ourselves, contrary to what our feelings, passions and our human estimations would tell us, that this is the right way to live and to react to any contradiction we can meet in our life.

Instead of following the Law of Talion, we follow this very special aspect of charity that is called magnanimity. For if we follow the eye-for-and eye, and tooth-for-a-tooth rule, we corrupt ourselves and play the game of the devil. We make ourselves no different from the one who offends us.

This is not defeatism and cowardice, much less, stupidity.

This is precisely what makes us truly human and Christian. This is what would lead us to the fullness of our being. It’s time that we earnestly make the effort to learn and acquire this virtue.

This does not mean that we do not concern ourselves with justice. We should, and in fact, pursue it to its fullest. But we have to understand that justice can only be lived in the context of charity and magnanimity, of patience and mercy. It is not justice when it is done outside of that context. And perfect justice can only come from God, not from us alone.

This, of course, will require of us to be in constant awareness of the example of Christ. More than that, we need to be truly “another Christ,” reflecting in our life the life of him who is the very pattern of our humanity and the redeemer of our damaged humanity.

What would help is to develop the art of going through the drama of our life with a sporting spirit and with a good sense of humor. There are things that we should not take too seriously, because the only one thing necessary is to love—to love God and everybody else.