The Widow's Mite


I came across a word I didn’t know.  The word was munificence.  I grabbed my iPhone and asked, “Definition: munificence.”  I received a definition for municipal.  “Mmmm…must be my Boston accent.”

I tried again.  “Munificence” in a loud syllabic emphasized voice.  This time iPhone gave me a list of websites to explore that had nothing to do with munificence.

Third time is a charm, right?  “MU-NI-FI-CENCE!!!!!” 

Not only did I get an audible definition, but also a visual:  Larger or more generous than is usual or necessary.

Ah!  “Give it away.  You can’t take all your toys with you.”  I get it.

But do others?  Munificence is more generous than usual.  That would mean not just giving for a charitable tax write off.  Giving money to the Girl Scouts and receiving cookies.  Buying a raffle ticket from Sons of Italy.

I’m not saying that these activities aren’t virtuous and praiseworthy.  They most certainly are, but you are getting something in return.  If one gave and didn’t want to receive anything back, that would be an example of magnificence. 

I’m not sure about rich people.  Are Melinda and Bill Gates munificent when they gave millions to help people in third world countries?  As wonderful as that may be, they are so rich they can afford to be generous.  Wouldn’t it be more munificent for a poor person to give from what little they have? Jesus tells us that the poor widow who gave only two mites was making the most magnificent gesture of munificence than any of us.  (Mark 12: 41-44)


No wonder the word “munificence” was unknown to me.

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