The Way

If thou wouldst be perfect.


— St. Matthew 19:21

Checked thus, the youth turns to the question which, working in his heart, had brought him running, and made him kneel: what good thing shall he do that he may have eternal life? He thought to gain his objective by a doing, when the very thing desired was a being: he would have that as a possession which must possess him. But the Lord cared neither for isolated truth nor for orphaned deed. It was truth in the inward parts, it was the good heart, the mother of good deeds, he cherished. It was good men he cared about, not notions of good things, or even good actions, save as the outcome of life, of love and will in the soul taking shape and coming forth. He would die to make men good and true. His whole heart would respond to the cry of sad publican or despairing Pharisee, “How am I to be good?’

When the Lord says, “Why askest thou me concerning that which is good?’ we must not put emphasis on the me: he was the proper person to ask, only the question was not the right one. The good thing was a small matter; the good Being was all in all. ‘Why ask me about the good thing? There is one living good, in whom the good thing, and all good, is alive. Ask me rather about the good person, the good being—the origin of all good. It is not with this or that good thing we have to do, but with that power whence comes our power even to speak the word good. To know God is to be good. It is not to make us do all things right he cares, but to make us hunger and thirst after righteousness.