LOVE OF NEIGHBOR
“Dearly beloved, let us love one another, for charity is of God. And every one that loveth, is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God: for God is charity. By this hath the charity of God appeared towards us, because God hath sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we may live by him. In this is charity: not as though we had loved God, but because he hath first loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins. My dearest, if God hath so loved us; we also ought to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abideth in us, and his charity is perfected in us.” 1 John 4:7-12
“Let us therefore love God, because God first hath loved us. If any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother; he is a liar. For he that loveth not his brother, whom he seeth, how can he love God, whom he seeth not? And this commandment we have from God, that he, who loveth God, love also his brother.” -1 John 4:7-19-21
POPE PIUS XII, MISTICI CORPORIS: “But if the bonds of faith and hope, which bind us to our Redeemer in His Mystical Body are weighty and important, those of charity are certainly no less so. If even in the natural order the love of friendship is something supremely noble, what shall we say of that supernatural love, which God infuses in our hearts? “God is charity and he that abideth in charity abideth in God and God in him.” The effect of this charity – such would seem to be God’s law – is to compel Him to enter into our loving hearts to return love for love, as He said: “If anyone love me…, my Father will love him and we will come to him and will make our abode with him.” Charity then, more than any other virtue binds us closely to Christ. How many children of the Church, on fire with this heavenly flame, have rejoiced to suffer insults for Him, and to face and overcome the hardest trials, even at the cost of their lives and the shedding of their blood. For this reason our Divine Savior earnestly exhorts us in these words: “Abide in my love.” And as charity, if it does not issue effectively in good works, is something altogether empty and unprofitable, He added immediately: “If you keep my commandments you shall abide in my love; as I have also kept my Father’s commandments and do abide in His love.” But, corresponding to this love of God and of Christ, there must be love of the neighbor. How can we claim to love the Divine Redeemer, if we hate those whom He has redeemed with His precious blood, so that He might make them members of His Mystical Body? For that reason the beloved disciple warns us: “If any man say: ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, he is a liar. For he that loveth not his brother whom he seeth, how can he love God whom he seeth not? And this commandment we have from God, that he who loveth God loveth his brother also.” Rather it should be said that the more we become “members one of another” “mutually careful, one for another,” the closer we shall be united with God and with Christ; as, on the other hand, the more ardent the love that binds us to God and to our divine Head, the closer we shall be united to each other in the bonds of charity.”
Among the many errors which derive from the poisoned source of religious and moral agnosticism, We would draw your attention, Venerable Brethren, to two in particular, as being those which more than others render almost impossible or at least precarious and uncertain, the peaceful intercourse of peoples.
- The first of these pernicious errors, widespread today, is the forgetfulness of that law of human solidarity and charity which is dictated and imposed by our common origin and by the equality of rational nature in all men, to whatever people they belong, and by the redeeming Sacrifice offered by Jesus Christ on the Altar of the Cross to His Heavenly Father on behalf of sinful mankind.
- In fact, the first page of the Scripture, with magnificent simplicity, tells us how God, as a culmination to His creative work, made man to His Own image and likeness (cf. Genesis i. 26, 27); and the same Scripture tells us that He enriched man with supernatural gifts and privileges, and destined him to an eternal and ineffable happiness. It shows us besides how other men took their origin from the first couple, and then goes on, in unsurpassed vividness of language, to recount their division into different groups and their dispersion to various parts of the world. Even when they abandoned their Creator, God did not cease to regard them as His children, who, according to His merciful plan, should one day be reunited once more in His friendship (cf. Genesis xii. 3).
- The Apostle of the Gentiles later on makes himself the herald of this truth which associates men as brothers in one great family, when he proclaims to the Greek world that God “hath made of one, all mankind, to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, determining appointed times, and the limits of their habitation, that they should seek God” (Acts xvii. 26, 27).
- A marvelous vision, which makes us see the human race in the unity of one common origin in God “one God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in us all” (Ephesians iv. 6); in the unity of nature which in every man is equally composed of material body and spiritual, immortal soul; in the unity of the immediate end and mission in the world; in the unity of dwelling place, the earth, of whose resources all men can by natural right avail themselves, to sustain and develop life; in the unity of the supernatural end, God Himself, to Whom all should tend; in the unity of means to secure that end.
- It is the same Apostle who portrays for us mankind in the unity of its relations with the Son of God, image of the invisible God, in Whom all things have been created: “In Him were all things created” (Colossians i. 16); in the unity of its ransom, effected for all by Christ, Who, through His Holy and most bitter passion, restored the original friendship with God which had been broken, making Himself the Mediator between God and men: “For there is one God, and one Mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy ii. 5).
- And to render such friendship between God and mankind more intimate, this same Divine and universal Mediator of salvation and of peace, in the sacred silence of the Supper Room, before He consummated the Supreme Sacrifice, let fall from His divine Lips the words which reverberate mightily down the centuries, inspiring heroic charity in a world devoidof love and torn by hate: “This is my commandment that you love one another, as I have loved you” (Saint John xv. 12).
- These are supernatural truths which form a solid basis and the strongest possible bond of a union, that is reinforced by the love of God and of our Divine Redeemer, from Whom all receive salvation “for the edifying of the Body of Christ: until we all meet into the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians iv. 12, 13). – Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Summi Pontificatus
Mercy and Forgiveness
“I desire first of all that supplications, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all men: For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the the knowledge of the truth..”1 St. Timothy 2: 1, 3-4
“But I say to you, Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you: That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and raineth upon the just and the unjust.” St. Matt. 5:44-45
But if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink. For, doing this, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good. St. Matt. 18
‘The person who loves God cannot help loving every man as himself, even though he is grieved by the passions of those who are not yet purified. But when they amend their lives, his delight is indescribable and knows no bounds. A soul filled with thoughts of sensual desire and hatred is unpurified. If we detect any trace of hatred in our hearts against any man whatsoever for committing any fault, we are utterly estranged from love for God, since love for God absolutely precludes us from hating any man.’–St. Maximus the Confessor
“We must love our neighbor as being made in the image of God and as an object of His love.”–Saint Vincent de Paul
St. Therese’s “first child”
In the The Story of a Soul, St. Therese recounts something she experienced as a 14-year-old girl. One Sunday, at the end of Mass, a religious picture fell from her missal. On it was an image of the wounded and pierced Divine Hands. It seemed to her as if the Precious Blood had fallen to the ground without notice. There and then, she later recounted, Thérèse resolved to place herself at the foot of the Cross, and to “thirst” there for the good of souls, especially desiring to “snatch sinners from the everlasting flames of Hell.”
That summer, press reports of the murders on the Rue Montaigne and the subsequent trial had gripped all France; Lisieux was no different. By the end of August, even the youthful Thérèse Martin had heard of the “notorious criminal Pranzini” and the sentence passed upon him. She also knew of his impenitence and, as a result, feared his being lost for all eternity. To avert that “irreparable calamity” she decided to employ “all the spiritual means” she could think of, as she later wrote in The Story of a Soul: “I heard talk of a great criminal just condemned to death for some horrible crimes; everything pointed to the fact that he would die impenitent. I wanted at all costs to prevent him from falling into hell, and to attain my purpose I employed every means imaginable. Feeling that of myself I could do nothing, I offered to God all the infinite merits of Our Lord, the treasures of the Church, and finally I begged Celine to have a Mass offered for my intentions. I didn’t dare ask this myself for fear of being obliged to say it was for Pranzini, the great criminal. I didn’t even want to tell Celine, but she asked me such tender and pressing questions, I confided my secret to her. Far from laughing at me, she asked if she could help convert my sinner. I accepted gratefully, for I would have wished all creatures would unite with me to beg grace for the guilty man.
I felt in the depths of my heart certain that our desires would be granted, but to obtain courage to pray for sinners I told God I was sure He would pardon the poor, unfortunate Pranzini; that I’d believe this even if he went to his death without any signs of repentence or without having gone to confession. I was absolutely confident in the mercy of Jesus. But I was begging Him for a “sign” of repentance only for my own simple consolation.
My prayer was answered to the letter! In spite of Papa’s prohibition that we read no papers, I didn’t think I was disobeying when reading the passages pertaining to Pranzini. The day after his execution I found the newspaper “La Croix.” I opened it quickly and what did I see? Ah! my tears betrayed my emotion and I was obliged to hide. Pranzini had not gone to confession. He had mounted the scaffold and was preparing to place his head in the formidable opening, when suddenly, seized by an inspiration, he turned, took hold of the crucifix the priest was holding out to him and kissed the sacred wounds three times! Then his soul went to receive the merciful sentence of Him who declares that in heaven there will be more joy over one sinner who does penance than over ninety-nine just who have no need of repentence!
I had obtained the “sign” I requested, and this sign was a perfect replica of the grace Jesus had given me when He attracted me to pray for sinners. Wasn’t it before the wounds of Jesus, when seeing His diving blood flowing, that the thirst for souls had entered my heart? I wished to give them this immaculate blood to drink, this blood which was to purify them from their stains, and the lips of my “first child” were pressed to the sacred wounds!”