"no one is good but God alone"

As Jesus was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

And Jesus said to him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone..." (Mk 10.17-18)
I thought about this strange saying of Jesus after writing that last entry. It seems to me that Jesus is saying that God alone is the source of goodness, that all good comes only from God. Even those good intentions and acts that we have experienced from other people, or have offered to others—if Jesus would not attribute goodness to himself, how could anyone else? Perhaps it's like the analogy I read somewhere: If a servant obediently carries out some charitable action ordered by his master, that servant does not consider himself the benefactor. The master is the source of the good deed. The servant just did what he was told, with the resources he was given.

It's not false modesty to take this attitude. I really think we ourselves are not the source of good, or even love. There is too much confusion and mixed motives and fears to even begin to claim for ourselves purity of heart. But God is pure and God is love. And God will move and work through us and bring good and love where we thought there could be none.

It is no lack of self-esteem to admit our emptiness. Neither need it be a cause for despair. What it should be is a cause to look to God with an even more intense faith and dependence. The more we realize we lack, the more desperately we cling to the one Source.