Queen Victoria, on hearing that she was next in line to the throne of England, is reputed to have said: “I will be good.” Jesus questioned the young man in today’s gospel as to why he called Him good: “Why do you call me good? No one is good; only God alone.”
Our idea of good and God’s can be very different. The young man told Jesus that he had kept all the commandments that he had mentioned, which concerned human relationships. He was a faithful Jew, adhering strictly to the Law. He must have been very shaken by Jesus’ response. Instead of patting him on the back and sending him home in a cloud of glory, Jesus called him to give up his wealth, which probably included his status in society. “There is one thing you lack,” he informed him. He had said almost the same to Martha: “But one thing is necessary” (Luke 10:42).
Jesus was making a big demand of the young man. It would change his life as it did for Saints Francis and Clare. The man could not make that choice in spite of the fact that he was loved by Jesus. He was entangled in his wealth. It is all too easy to make false gods out of material possessions. For both himself and Martha, Jesus had proposed only one change. Perhaps it is helpful to pray about just one thing in our lives that we need to look at and perhaps alter. More than that could be confusing and unmanageable.