Why do you call me good?
It was not the
question the rich young man was expecting. Eager and earnest, he had run
up to the Rabbi whom everyone was talking about, certain that He held
the key to his deepest desires.
Why do you call me
good? Jesus was not snubbing His enthusiastic inquirer.
Still less was Jesus denying the goodness which is undeniably His as the
Incarnate Son of God. Our Lord was simply inviting the rich young man to
look deeper, to understand that his what must l do was inextricably
linked to the divinely unequivocal reply: no one is good but God alone.
Why do we call Jesus good?
This is a question that summons us to CONSIDER HIM in His essence. Jesus
is good because He is God. But in the Incarnation, He translates, so to
speak, the divine goodness into tangible human terms. A look at the
Latin roots of the words for GOODNESS and BENIGNITY will help here.
Bonitas is moral goodness, kindness, integrity. It is linked to parental
love and thus, when applied to God, describes the highest, purest,
infinitely excellent goodness which St. Francis of Assisi extolled when
he declared that God is good, all good, the highest Good. Benignitas,
which is connected with bonus (good) and gigno (to bege, bear, bring
forth), is kindness, mildness, friendliness, liberality, generosity.
Why do we call Jesus
because we see in His deeds, His words and His manner the virtue of
BENIGNITY reflecting, like the best of mirrors, the goodness of His Most
High, All Good Father. Jesus went about doing good — begetting it,
bearing it, bringing it forth. Everyone saw it and those whose hearts
were open, drew near to learn from Him, to follow Him and to imitate
Why do you call me good? In his
desire to observe the Holy Gospel without gloss, St. Francis took great
care not to call any man good, not even his doctor, whose given name was
"Good John." But the Little Poor Man never hesitated to sing of, praise
and proclaim the goodness of God. And it was precisely in singing,
praising and prodaiming God's goodness that Francis was able to
recognize, respect and nurture the divine goodness hidden deep in the
soul of every person.
But there was more...
do you call me good? The man whom the simple faithful
called the Christ of Umbria" generously strove to imitate the goodness
of the Divine Master. Like Him, Francis, too, was an expert in the
virtue of BENIGNITY. Robbers and ruffians, priests and popes and paupers
all experienced his kindness, mildness, friendliness, liberality and
generosity — not as disjointed, individual acts but as a beautiful moral
harmony, a bouquet of goodness emitting the fragrance of Christ
wherever Francis went.
Why do you call me good?
Like the rich young man of the Gospel, we can run up to Jesus, the
Goodness of God made visible, and ask what must / do? He, whom we do
indeed call good, teaches us how to give God and neighbor everything
graciously, sweetly, kindly, gently, generously. Exercising the "little"
virtue of BENIGNITY, we, like St. Francis can gather bouquets of
goodness in any and every season and spread Jesus' fragrance