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 good? Precisely 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 Him.

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 proclaiming 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...

Why 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 I 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 EVERYWHERE.

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The Opening Power

Part 2