CHARITY TOWARDS THE NEIGHBOUR.
An act of Charity performed towards a neighbour will be accepted by Jesus Christ as done to Himself. I say to you, says the Redeemer, as long as you did it to one of these, my least brethren, you did it to me-(Matt. xxv. 40). St. Catharine of Genoa used to say our love of God is to be measured by our love for our neighbour.
To love God without at the same time loving our neighbour is impossible. The same precept that prescribes love towards God imposes a strict obligation of brotherly Charity. And this commandment we have from God that he who loveth God love also his brother -(1 John iv. 21). Hence St. Thomas teaches that the love of God and the love of our neighbour proceed alike from Charity. For Charity makes us Jove God and our neighbour, because such is the will of God. Such, too, was the doctrine of St. John the Evangelist. St. Jerome relates that being asked by his disciples why he frequently recommended fraternal love, that holy Apostle replied: ” Becauce it is the precept of the Lord, and the fulfilment of it alone is sufficient.”
St. Catharine of Genoa once said to the Lord: “My God, Thou dost command me to love my neighbour; and I can love none but Thee.” “My child,” answered Jesus, “he that loves Me, loves whatsoever I love.” Indeed, when we love a person we also love his relatives, his servants, his likeness, and even his clothes, because we know he loves them. And why do we love our neighbours? It is because God loves them. Hence St. John says that if any man say I love God and hateth his brother, he is a liar-(l John iv. 20). But as hatred towards our neighbours is incompatible with the love of God, so an act of Charity performed in their regard will be accepted by Jesus Christ as done for Himself. Amen. I say to you, says the Redeemer, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren you did it to me-(Matt. xxv. 40). St. Catharine of Genoa used to say that our love of God is to be measured by our love for our neighbour.
Ah, my Redeemer, how unlike I am to Thee! Thou wast all Charity towards Thy persecutors, and I am all rancour and hatred towards my neighbour. Thou didst pray with so much love for those who crucified Thee, and I immediatdy seek revenge against those who offend me. 0 God of love, give me Thy love.
Oh. what a Paradise where Charity reigns! It is the delight of God Himself. Behold, says the Psalmist, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity-(Ps. cxxxii. 1). The Lord looks with complacency on the Charity of brethren and sisters who dwell together in unity, who are united by one will of serving God, and who seek only to sanctify one another that they may be all united one day in the land of bliss. The highest praise bestowed by St. Luke on the first Christians was that they had but one heart and soul. And the multitude oj the believers had but one heart and one soul-(Acts. iv. 32). This unity was the fruit of the prayer of Jesus Christ Who before His Passion besought His Eternal Father to make His disciples one by holy Charity, as He and the Father are one. Holy Father, keep them in thy name … that they may be one as we also are-(John xvii. 11). This unity is one of the principal fruits of Redemption, as may be inferred from the prediction of Isaias: The wolf shall dwell with the lamb; and the leopard shall lie down with the kid. They shall not hurt, nor shall they kill in all my holy mountain-(Is. xi. 6, 9). Yes, the followers of Jesus, though of different countries and of different dispositions, shall live in peace with one another, each seeking by holy Charity to accommodate himself to the wishes and inclinations of the other. (And as a certain author has well remarked, what does a community of religious mean but a union of many by will and desire so as to form but one person?) It is Charity that maintains union; for it is not possible that all should have congenial dispositions. It is Charity that unites the hearts of all, and makes them bear one another’s burdens, and conform to the will of each other.
St. John Climacus relates that in the vicinity of Alexandria there was a celebrated monastery, where, because they loved one another so cordially in holy Charity, all the Religious enjoyed the peace of Paradise. In general the first that perceived a disagreement between two of the Religious was able to restore peace by a mere sign. But if they could not be reconciled, both were sent as exiles to a neighbouring house, and were told at their departure that the abode of two, demons in the monastery could be no longer profitable to the Community.
O Lord, abandon me not to my passions. Give me strength to love and to do good to all who injure me. For the sake of Thy Blood, 0 Jesus, permit me not to be separated from Thee. 0 Mother of God, pray to Jesus for me.