Doing good vs being good

The WORD in Other Words by Fr Jose Caballes SVD (Philippines)

Monday Week 20 Ordinary Time, 1 Jgs 2:11-19, Mt 19:16-22

Someone asked Jesus: “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”   The question already gives us a hint about the attitude of the person asking. He was   concerned with the “what good,” focusing on the action, rather than the “who,” focusing on the person. He was a person whose idea of morality was “on doing good”  rather than “on being good.” 

Understandably, the religion in Jesus‘ time was focused on fulfilling the law, that is why acting in accordance with the law was the main   moral guideline of being good. The young man perfectly observed all the requirements  of the law but gave him also the false idea that by following the law he was also justifying himself as “being good”. But Jesus wanted him to go further than mere fulfilment of the law.

The demand that he give up his possessions was a refocusing on the importance of the “other” as person. The second half of the ten commandments that Jesus enumerated is all about caring for the other. The young man was asked to “love your neighbor as yourself” which directs us to the real question not on what “I can do” but on “how I can love.” This is the real question that we should always be asking. 

Christianity is not a religion of laws that we simply fulfill but a religion of relationships, especially to God, that we ought to accomplish. 

Spiritual and Religious book from Logos Publications available online

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