A reflection on the readings for Sunday, July 2, 2023, The Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Abraham Lincoln was lauded for his magnanimity. William Seward, originally a political rival and later Lincoln’s secretary of state, called Lincoln’s magnanimity “almost superhuman.” Edwin Stanton, the attorney General before Lincoln took office, hurt Lincoln’s career in law by barring him from taking part in an important trial. Stanton had a habit of insulting Lincoln, calling him a “damned long-armed Ape,” and “the original gorilla.” Nevertheless, Lincoln picked Stanton as his secretary of war because he believed Stanton was the best person for the job. It was, according to one Lincoln biographer, “one of the most magnanimous acts of a remarkably magnanimous president.”

There was no revenge, punishment or getting back at him. Lincoln saw someone with great qualities of leadership. He went beyond himself, beyond the normal customs and expectations. He looked for the greatest good for the country.


I would like to reflect the readings of the day in view of God’s magnanimity. God who would go beyond the conventional limits so that the other person receives the greatest good. In the first reading we hear about the woman of status from the place called Shunem. She has the resources to invite the prophet to dine with her family whenever he passes through her town, and she and her husband even built and furnished a guest room for him.

She does not come to Elisha with a request for help. Prophet Elisha came to know that the couple had no children and that they could not have one, since the husband is old. Elisha, therefore, tells her that she will have a son “in due time,” within the year. Prophet Elisha could have sympathized with them and consoled them or even advised them to adopt a child. Instead, he would do what God would do for them. By the intercession of the prophet Elisha, God would give them the greatest good possible for them, a son, far beyond what they can give in return. Truly a magnanimous gesture.

In the gospel of the day, Jesus points out that He is magnanimous to anyone who is willing to love Him, willing to take up the cross. He is magnanimous to anyone who is willing to welcome His messenger. He is magnanimous to anyone who offers even a cup of cold water. He would go far and beyond in His response to them. That is magnanimity, giving us the greatest good possible.


During his address to the students of Jesuit schools in Italy and Albania in June 2013, Pope Francis urged his audience to recognize the importance of the virtue of magnanimity, that is, “having a great heart, having greatness of mind; it means having great ideals, the wish to do great things to respond to what God asks of us.” Francis concluded his written remarks with the following blessing: “The Lord is always close to you, he picks you up when you fall and impels you to develop and to make ever loftier decisions, ‘con grande ánimo y liberalidad,’ – with great soul and liberty for the greater glory of God.”

In the book of Genesis, Abraham prays that his son Ishmael be kept safe. But God goes far and beyond and says that He will bless him with Isaac. God magnanimously blesses him with a son that he did not even hope for. Even more, God would make Abraham “the father of all nations.” This is magnanimity in its essence.

Mother Mary said, “let your will be done.” God responded by making her the queen of heaven and earth. A magnanimity far beyond anyone’s wildest imagination.

The thief on the cross, simply said, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” It is the greatest good God could do for the thief. He never rebuked him or asked him to confess his sins.

Magnanimity used to be the crown of all virtues in the ancient time but over a period of time we have lost it. Aristotle wrote about it. Cicero wrote about it. St. Thomas Aquinas defined it as the greatness of the soul. Thomas writes: “Magnanimity by its very name denotes stretching forth of the mind to great things” (Q. 129, Art. 1).

Sometimes, we behave like the way Jesus described in the gospel of Matthew, “‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.” (Mt 11:17). Someone will say, “I will not come for your funeral because you will not come for my funeral.”  They will have a “You did this to me, and I will do this to you” attitude. Petty minds and petty words, fights, issues, and arguments.

A magnanimous person is patient, kind, rejoices in justice and truth, protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. A magnanimous person is not proud and does not dishonor others. This person is not petty minded. This person looks for the greatest good that the other person needs.


We may not be able to be as magnanimous as Jesus. But at least we can revisit the virtue that has been lost over a period of time. We pray that we may participate in the magnanimity of God.

Image: Adobe Stock. By New Africa.

Discuss this article!

Keep the conversation going in our SmartCatholics Group! You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

Liked this post? Take a second to support Where Peter Is on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Fr. Fredrick Devaraj comes from India. He was a member of the Congregation of the Holy Redeemer, the Redemptorists of Bangalore Province.  Now he is a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri, serving at St. Alban Roe Catholic Church.

Share via
Copy link