This is a syndicated post from Daily Meditations with Fr. Alfonse. [Read the original article...]
Monday of the Twentieth Week In Ordinary Time
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A young man approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good.”
What is good? Only God knows. I’m not joking. Only God knows what is good and bad. That’s why we are to take his advice and follow Him.
How often do you hear people say, “Well, you don’t need to believe in God in order to be good and to do good.” I’m not so sure about that. After all, what does it mean to be “good”? Who decides? Is it decided by politicians and judges? Is it decided by votes and court decisions? Or is it decided by “the times”? If so, then what is “good” can easily change like slavery and abortion, where slavery was once considered good and abortion is now considered good.
History has shown that people have had some very different ideas of what is good. The Romans believed it was discipline and authority. The Greeks believed it was wisdom and knowledge. The Nazis believed it was power and race. The Communists believed it was atheism and camaraderie.
Some people would still agree.
So maybe “good” must be decided by each and every one of us. How convenient, especially for the rich and powerful who can quickly sway public opinion like so many have done before, and like most of us never can.
I have actually heard some say that even God changes his ideas of what is good and bad. But that is simply ignorance of the Scriptures, for even Christ said, when speaking about men divorcing their wives, that “because of the hardness of your hearts, Moses allowed men to divorce, but it was not so from the very beginning.” Because of the hardness of our hearts…
Unlike so many us, God prefers to work with us over time, even if it takes a long time.
I have even heard some say that God ordered the massacre of thousands of villagers in the Old Testament, as if to justify man’s massacre of all the men, women and children in the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima!
So men have a right to act like God? No, but we’ve always wanted to!
We need a standard, and we have one in the God that created us.
The Jews and the Baals. The Jews of old constantly struggled with idolatry. We struggle with the same exact thing. We prefer and desire a god that is created in our image; and like the Jews, we will always be tempted by the gods of least resistance.
The Baals were just what the politicians ordered. The children of Israel were promised that these gods would make their lives so much easier, and that by following them, they would get along much better with their neighbors: the nations that were stronger then them, surrounding them and constantly threatening them.
What happened to them next is typical of what happens to all of us when we follow our cravings, our passions and our desires: we become the slaves of others.
Jesus and the rich young man. Jesus asked the rich young man: “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good.” If we don’t talk about this; if we don’t see eye-to-eye on this, then we won’t be able to agree on much, not even on what is “good”.
If you noticed, the Lord told the young man to follow the Commandments, but only the commandments that do not relate to Him, to God: “Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Do not kill. Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Why just these Commandments? What about the first three Commandments? First the civil man, then the holy man.
By not doing certain bad things, the rich young man won’t be holy, but he won’t be a tyrant to others either. This way, at least, there may be a bit of peace on earth and in our neighborhoods.
The above Commandments are respected in nearly every single culture. But who hasn’t broken them? Who hasn’t struggled with them? It isn’t enough. We need more.
The Lord provides.
“If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have… and… come follow me.”
We will always be tempted to follow the god created in our image, rather than the God who created us in His image.
Do you wish to be perfect? Then follow the Lord. (95)