23 May 2016
Jesus sounds pretty definite: “No one is good—but God alone.” Of course, there are lots of people we know who are good. Just think of some of the big ones: John the Baptist, our Blessed Mother, Moses, Abraham. And, of course, we each know plenty of people in our lives who we know are good. But, still, Jesus says sounds pretty definite: “No one is good—but God alone.”
Now, as we just heard, a man ran up to Jesus and called him “good teacher.” And Jesus said: “Why do you call me good?” Now, I suppose we could take his response to be a chastisement or a correction. But, knowing Jesus, he’s probably trying to get the man to see things in a different way. And he might challenge us to ask ourselves: “Why do we call our loved ones ‘good’?” Why do we call the saints “good?”
What we’re meant to understand is just what Jesus said: God alone is good. And so, wherever we encounter genuine goodness, we encounter something of God. Now, the rich young man was really close to getting this; he only had to make the connection between the goodness he saw in Jesus and the goodness of God to realize that God was present to him . . . through Jesus. The “eternal life” the man wanted was right there in the pure goodness of Jesus.
And that’s the connection Jesus tries to help us make. The goodness of the saints is the nothing other than the goodness of God. The good we see in friends and family, in mentors and people we hold in high regard; that good is the goodness of God shining through them. And we can thank God for those “good people” in our lives (and the good that’s in ourselves) because, through that goodness we begin to experience God; we begin to experience “the hope and the inheritance” given to us by Christ—the hope of eternal happiness, and the inheritance of eternal life.
Wherever we encounter genuine goodness, we encounter something of God. That’s the connection Jesus is trying to help us make. And when we begin to make it, we’ll see that our inheritance of “eternal life” doesn’t begin when we die; it begins today. Our hope for happiness and life is available today . . . if only we make the connection. Wherever we encounter genuine goodness, we encounter something of God.