A greatness of heart and soul

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - LIFESTYLE - By Fr. Tito Caluag

There is a say­ing in Filipino that cap­tures the spirit of to­day’s Gospel: “Isusubo na

lang, ibibi­gay pa sa iba.” This suc­cinctly ex­presses the spirit of gen­eros­ity and giv­ing that marked the poor widow’s giv­ing: “...but she, from her poverty, has con­trib­uted all she had.”

This de­scrip­tion of her gen­eros­ity is bet­ter ex­pressed in the syn­ony­mous term “mag­na­nim­ity,” the magna an­ima, the great soul. The poor widow’s giv­ing was one that came from a greatness of soul.

This is the power of her ex­am­ple: not what or how much she gave, but how or why she gave out of poverty, that al­lowed her to tap into her core and give with great soul.

A par­al­lel ex­am­ple is Peter’s own giv­ing in the Acts of the Apos­tles. “I have nei­ther sil­ver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Je­sus Christ the Na­zorean, [rise and] walk.” (Acts 3: 6)

Note how in both cases the abil­ity to give mag­nan­i­mously comes from a sense of poverty, a sense of poverty born out of an ac­knowl­edge­ment of one’s rad­i­cal de­pen­dence on oth­ers— or, in th­ese cases, on God. In short, a sense of poverty that leads to the virtue of hu­mil­ity.

As we re­flected on in a pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cle, hu­mil­ity, hu­man­ity and hu­mor share a com­mon root word: hu­mus.

As the Dalai Lama and Arch­bishop Des­mond Tutu shared in a con­ver­sa­tion: “The lowly and sus­tain­ing earth is the source of all three words. Is it any sur­prise that we have to have a sense of hu­mil­ity to be able to laugh at our­selves and that to laugh at our­selves re­minds us of our shared hu­man­ity?” (from “The Book of Joy”)

Back to ba­sics

We go back to ba­sics as we hum­ble our­selves, and in go­ing back to ba­sics we dis­cover what is es­sen­tial. It is in our essence, our core, that we dis­cover who we re­ally are—what mat­ters most.

It is our sense of poverty that leads us to the virtue of hu­mil­ity, which in turn leads us to great free­dom, the spir­i­tual free­dom that tran­scends the ma­te­rial con­sid­er­a­tions of life.

Peo­ple may be phys­i­cally in- carcer­ated, but their spirit and soul re­main free. They may be op­pressed and threat­ened, but they refuse to surrender their hope.

Peo­ple may be ma­te­ri­ally marginal­ized, but their kind­ness, com­pas­sion and mag­na­nim­ity over­flow to­ward a shar­ing of the lit­tle that they have with a greatness of heart and soul—like the poor widow, like Peter.

This is what makes the widow’s of­fer­ing, the widow’s mite, a source of in­spi­ra­tion. It was not the “two small coins worth a few cents” that in­spires, but the spirit of the giv­ing— non multa, sed

mul­tum, “not many, but much.” This most cer­tainly is a most wel­come re­minder to us. In a world that can be caught in the many dis­trac­tions that ma­te­rial af­flu­ence and tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ment bring, she re­minds us that it is the greatness of soul that rises above all th­ese.

The greatness of soul brings us back to our core, to the virtue of hu­mil­ity that con­nects us to one an­other in our shared hu­man­ity; to the hu­mil­ity that brings us greater spir­i­tual free­dom to give with a greatness of spirit—to love and to serve in all things.

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