“You are a good for me:” to whom can we say these words? To everyone? Or only to some? And to whom, in particular? A gospel episode comes to mind, one described slightly differently by both Matthew and Mark: Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone (Mk 10:18, cf. Mt 19:16-17). Only God is good. You, my Lord, are my only good. (cf. Ps 15:2). He is the only necessary thing. “Only God suffices,” wrote St. Teresa of Avila.
Perhaps one needs to reach this depth in the well of life, where, after having tasted all the waters in the search for one that could finally quench one’s thirst, one discovers that the thirst actually remains, or better, it becomes even more acutely urgent. At that point one finds oneself crying out, the way Christ did on the cross: I thirst (Jn 19:28). Only the Infinite could respond to that cry.
At this point, most likely, a fabric begins to form, woven by threads of responses to the questions posed at the beginning. Who is this God who claims to be the only good? Is he an exclusive God, one who wants to stay only with his beloved? Would this love for his beloved be authentic if he wanted to affirm his love’s uniqueness, cancelling everything good in the other?
The truth is, the God “who suffices” reveals himself, to those who discover him towards the end of the journey of life, like a God who loves, or better a God who is love itself and therefore the source of every love, a God who is Father, who generated a Son, and their relationship of reciprocal self-gift is itself a third person: the Holy Spirit.
“Into new Loves the Eternal Love unfolded,” Dante wrote in the Divine Comedy (Paradise, XXIX, 18). We must therefore read “Only God is good,” “God suffices,” and other similar expressions in an inclusive, not exclusive way. God does not live by the death of that which surrounds him, but rather opens his infiniteness to everything he wanted to exist and created: man is the glory of God and the universe is the glory of man. God saw that it was good (cf. Gn 1:4ss): this is the refrain at the beginning of the book of Genesis with which God concludes every single day of creation. Good therefore is everything that is molded by the hands of God and everything that leads us to him. Therefore “You are a good for me” can either be a romantic phrase of one who looks at his lover only with a fragile sentiment or worse, one who egotistically seeks to possess another and do with the other as he wants. But, thank God, instead it can be the recognition of the other person’s importance in my journey toward communion with all of creation and with its creator.
Like God, this “you” often has the face of unpredictability and of absolute novelty. Therefore it requires of me a new availability of my mind and heart and a new openness and discovery; it shows the importance of our brother as a sacrament from God. Saying to the other “You are a good for me” coincides with the beginning of a new friendship and with the new heavens and a new earth which the Book of Revelation talks about (cf. Rev 21:1).
In this journey, every day hostility and feeling like a stranger are overcome. The stranger, the foreigner, is welcomed as a brother in my home.
In the photo, a moment at the Fraternity of St. Charles’ stand during the Meeting of Rimini 2016.