In today’s Gospel from Matthew, we hear the story about the rich young man. It starts with the rich young man asking Jesus, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” (Matt 19:16) Jesus quips in reply, “Why do you ask me about the good?” (Matt 19:17)
What are we to make of this quip of Jesus? Especially when Jesus follows up with, “There is only One who is good.” (Matt 19: 17). It’s almost as if Jesus is telling the rich young man, “Don’t ask me, because only God is good.” Is Jesus saying that only the Father is good, and that He is not? On the contrary! This is a glint of insight into the mystery of the Trinity, where One God consists of Three Persons. It is true that only God is all good. For the rest of us, we all have flaws, except for Jesus. He is perfect in both His Divine and human natures. Jesus is good, because Jesus is God.
The Rich Young Man Just Doesn’t Get It
So, what does it take to be good? Jesus tells us to follow the Ten Commandments, and beyond that to surrender unto God all cares and earthly possessions. But the rich young man doesn’t get it. He refuses to part with earthly comforts. In his shortsightedness, he fails to see the riches of eternity that lie ahead of him, if he would only follow Jesus.
If we read a bit beyond today’s reading, we would learn:
…everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more and will inherit eternal life. (Matt 19:29)
Jesus doesn’t make promises like this offhandedly. No, He means it when He makes statements like this one from Matthew’s Gospel.
Jesus isn’t asking you to sell your home and become homeless. But He is asking you to trust in Him, who is all good, and who only wants what is best for you. Recognize that all that is good, in your life, came from God, and belongs to God, even your house! Take Jesus up on His offer and follow Him.
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