God only is good
www_nanaco1 asked this question on 5/29/2000:
Father; Could you please give me the interpretation of Mark (10:18). Jesus answered him," Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.
A Mormon told me this verse shows that Jesus is not God.
Thank you and may Our Blessed Lord and Savior bless you and all the clergy.
mscperu gave this response on 5/29/2000:
The joy of the risen Lord be in your heart. Thank you for your question.
The episode of the rich man is wonderfully constructed because Jesus wanted this potential disciple to understand who He really was.
Mark 10:17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"18 "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good—except God alone.
This means that Jesus is telling him that He was God. Let me try to explain.
19You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’"
20"Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."
21Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
22At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"
As you know there is a tradition that the commandments were written on two tablets. On one there were written the commandments referring directly to God and his worship. The second contained those relating to the neighbor.
Jesus presents him with the commandments of the second tablet and the young man happily announces that he had kept them from youth.
People say that the expression "Jesus looked at him and loved him" was a response to his generosity. Not so. Read all the instances when Jesus looks at people. They are in a big error like Peter who had denied him under oath when Jesus looked at him. This young man thought he was in God's favor. But Jesus loved him because he had not understood what it meant to follow God because his money was more important. Jesus loves especially those who are lost and don’t understand anything.
Jesus had to show him that he was not obeying the most important commandment. And so He presented him with the first tablet: "ONE thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come and follow Me". It’s the love of God, of putting Him first above all possessions and ambitions.
Do you know that every Jew recites daily the S'hma (Hear, Israel... there is only ONE God...)? This phrase of Jesus "ONE thing you lack" means that He was telling the youngster that he lacked the most important thing: the commandment to love God. How? Following Jesus and having the treasure in heaven; that’s the first commandment.
There is an other very clear pointer to this truth. It consists in that to love God in the "Hear Israel" has to be according to the text "with all your heart... with all your might". The rabbis interpret "with all your might" as "with all your possessions". Jesus was telling him that he lacked one thing: the love of God having loved his neighbors observing the commandments of the other slab. How would the young man show this love of God? By selling his possessions. That’s letting God first above all things.
The young man went away because he loved his possessions more than God. This is the very intention of this passage: you have to love God more than your possessions. In this same direction points the subsequent teaching about wealthy persons having terrible problems to get into the kingdom of God:23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!" You see: kingdom of God = follow Jesus. The Apostles are amazed because in the OT wealth is a sign of God’s blessing.
You understand this episode only if you consider that Jesus was a Jew and taught Jews. Every word is related in some way to the ways of Jewish faith. Otherwise you comprehend only superficially and you do not get the implications.
If you go on reading in Mark you will find that Jesus predicts His death. So following Him is accepting the cross. Remember: "Who sees Me sees the Father".
There is no contradiction. It’s a beautifully constructed and very pedagogical teaching by Jesus Himself that He is the Son of God, that He is God that following Him is entering the kingdom of God.
Thank you for the pleasure of having revisited a wonderful saying of Jesus. He must have looked frequently at me because I did not understand Him. So I recite frequently the S'hema - Hear Israel".
And ... do you love Him more than your possessions?
God bless you
in Corde Jesu