There is a difference between looking after the person beside you and doing it in response to grace or help from God.  The reason the Bible says the love of God and neighbour go together is that you love God totally as the source of all love and you let him live in you and look after your neighbour through you.  It is all God based.  If you love your neighbour you will say it is not really you doing it but God.  So there is no New Testament endorsement for any approach to the neighbour but this one.  Effectively, loving your neighbour is all about God.

I would like to concentrate on how the text below says that loving God for what you can get out of him is good but too imperfect.  This shows that like everybody else the Church messes about with the word good and its meaning.  Loving God not for him but for what he does is mercenary and is not good.  It is selfishness of a sort that looks like true love but it is not.  Plus if true love of God is needed to really love your neighbour this self-interested love of God is going to do harm.  The other point is that in most cases you will not be able to detect the person with such an attitude.  For all we know, the saints might secretly have not be true lovers of God.

The problem with good and how we have no reason to affirm it is what anybody wants it to be is why there is so much trouble over attempts to validate justice and love and respect and moreover, how to implement them.  People still will not agree to disagree and leave it there instead of running after religions that go too far with the rules.

The text links the command to love God totally to us being in his image.  So being in his image is not about our dignity but also God's.  You cannot say you are made in God's image without adding this means you must turn to him with all your heart and give him your entire self.

The claim that God has made it easy to love him totally for he became man attacks all who are not convinced Christians.  It accuses them of being a danger to others for we are told that if you truly love God you will do nothing harmful to another.

Here is a Catholic text on the subject.  It is from A Manual of Moral Theology by Reverend Thomas Slater S.J.

CHARITY, as treated of here, is an act of the will by which we love God for his own sake above all things, and our neighbour for the sake of God. The love of charity, then, is different from the love of concupiscence, by which we love God as our reward exceeding great, and desire to possess him in whom our supreme and perfect happiness is placed. This love of concupiscence is good and belongs to the virtue of hope, but it is imperfect. By charity we rise above the consideration of our own reward and happiness; we see in God the infinite Good, the Source and Origin of all good, and we rejoice in his infinite Perfection. We wish him all honour and glory and every good, and desire, as far as we can, to obtain it for him, because he is infinitely worthy of our whole-hearted devotion. So that the formal object of charity, the reason why we love God, is his own infinite goodness and worth; for this reason we love him and our neighbour, for such is his will.

He has made us all in his image and likeness ; all rational creatures form the great family of God, our common Father ; all are capable by grace of eternal happiness with him in heaven.  

The most intimate union with God by charity is the end for which we were created, and it is our duty to prepare ourselves for this high destiny by exercising ourselves in charity while on earth. It is the highest and the noblest of virtues, the queen of all the virtues, the seal and bond of human perfection. That we might cultivate charity all the more assiduously God has commanded it in express terms: " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

We are bound, then, to love God above all other things, to cling to him, come what may, never to allow ourselves to be separated from him by sin, for: " He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me." If we do this, we need have no scruples about our charity; even though we seem to have a tenderer feeling for husband, child, or friend than for God, we may call to mind that charity belongs essentially to the will ; if our will is firmly fixed on God, so that we are prepared to suffer the loss of anything rather than of God, we substantially fulfil the greatest of the precepts, on which the law and the prophets hang.  

All rational beings that are capable of friendship with God, and of becoming his children by grace, are to be loved for the sake of God in charity. This love of charity towards our fellow- men does not exclude love for them as friends or relatives. Love of others for any honest motive is good and praiseworthy, and may by being supernaturalized become supernaturally meritorious with God. By the precept of charity towards our neighbour we are bound to wish well to all, to pray for all, never to allow ourselves any thought, word, or deed which is incompatible with mutual love, and we are bound to help others in their necessities as far as we can.

As charity is the queen of all the virtues, it binds of itself under pain of grave sin, but when the matter is light the sin will be only venial. Sins, then, against charity are grievous of themselves, as we shall see while treating of them separately.   ...

We must not suppose that it is difficult to love God with the love of charity, for God has commanded it, and his infinite love towards us and the desire he has of being loved by us in return prompt him to give us abundant grace to enable us to comply with his precept. By becoming bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh in Jesus Christ, God has made it especially easy for us to love him, inasmuch as it is easy for us to understand and to appreciate the infinite tenderness and loveliness of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is of such great merit that an act of perfect charity at once blots out all sin and reconciles the sinner with God.   

THE law of charity is not fulfilled by a general and equal esteem for all mankind. Such a vague and general regard for others would probably be inoperative, and charity is above all things active. Charity, then, to be genuine must be well ordered and discriminating. It must look at the claims which others have on our charity; it must appreciate things at their true value, otherwise in wishing to confer a favour it will do harm to the object of love ; it must assist others wisely according to their necessity, otherwise it will foster hypocrisy and produce professional and able-bodied beggars. In other words, as theologians teach, the order of charity has reference to the persons who claim our love, to the advantages which we desire to procure for them, and to the necessity in which they are placed.

God, the fountain and reason of charity, the infinite source of all good, has the first and highest claim on our love. " He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me ; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." Next to God we must love ourselves with that genuine charity which makes one's own salvation the first great duty of every man " For what doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his own soul ?" We are never justified, then, in committing the slightest sin for the love of anyone or anything whatsoever.   Neither must we without good cause expose ourselves to the proximate occasions of sin. If duty demands it and if proper precautions be taken, we may confidently trust in the protection of God, and expose ourselves to risk for the sake of our neighbour. We may, too, forego a small spiritual advantage which is not matter of precept for the sake of our neighbour. Moreover, we are sometimes called upon to sacrifice our own good of a lower order for the higher good of our neighbour. In this connection we may distinguish a triple order of goods, those which pertain to the salvation of the soul; the intrinsic and natural goods of soul and body,   consisting in life, health, knowledge, liberty, etc. ; and extrinsic goods consisting in reputation, wealth, etc.

Theologians also distinguish three degrees of necessity in which one in need of charity, spiritual or temporal, may be placed. If he is in danger of damnation or of loss of life, or of other good of almost equal importance, and can do nothing to help himself, he is said to be in extreme necessity. If he is in similar danger but can do something to help himself, though not without grave difficulty, he is in grave necessity. Ordinary sinners and beggars who can help themselves without grave difficulty are in common necessity.

Every man, as far as he can, is bound to help his neighbour in extreme spiritual necessity even at the cost of his own life: " In this we have known the charity of God, because he hath laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren."...

It is a disputed question among theologians whether one is allowed to sacrifice his own life in order to save the life of another whose welfare is not of public importance. Many deny that it is lawful, for we should love ourselves in the first place when there is question of equal good ; charity begins at home. Others, however, more probably teach that it may lawfully be done, and that it is an act of heroic virtue ; so that in yielding a plank to another in a shipwreck and permitting himself to be drowned, a man does not prefer the life of another to his own, but he sacrifices his life for the sake of virtue.  

The more important spiritual goods of the soul should be the first objects of our solicitude, then the intrinsic goods of the soul and body, finally the extrinsic goods of reputation and wealth.   With the love of complacency which inclines us to show reverence, honour, and respect to others, we should give the preference to those who are more worthy of it on account of their closer union with God. The love of benevolence, on the other hand, leads us to prefer those who are nearer to us in sharing with them the goods which are specially due to them on account of their union with us. Although no absolute and universal rule can be laid down to guide us as to whom the preference should be given when we cannot help all, yet there is general agreement among theologians that the claims of our neighbour rank somewhat in the following order : wife, children, parents, brothers and sisters, other relatives, friends, domestics, those who live in the same place, country, and finally all others.

NOT even enemies and those who injure us are excluded from the law of charity ; in spite of their ill will and malice they remain our neighbours, and our Lord expressly bade us love them: " I say to you: Love your enemies; do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you." 1 We are bound by this precept to put out of our hearts all ill feeling and desire of revenge against those who dislike and wrong us, and furthermore we are bound to show them those common marks of Christian charity which are due to all and may be refused to none. What those common marks of Christian charity are depends much on the usages of time and place, and of the society to which the parties belong. Those marks which are common to members of the same family are not due to outsiders; those which are mutually shown to neighbours of the same social standing are not due to utter strangers or to persons in a lower social position. Among the common signs of charity which may be refused to none are reckoned the following: general prayer for all which we offer up when we say the Our Father, answering a question or returning a salute, selling in open market to all comers, refraining from excluding individuals from general invitations or general benefactions.   It is not of precept but of counsel to show one's enemies unusual signs of forgiveness and charity. Such signs are to pray expressly for an enemy in particular, to visit him, to console him in affliction, to treat familiarly with him.

In certain circumstances, however, we are bound to show even these unusual signs of charity to our enemy, as when they cannot be refused without scandal to others who will think that they are refused through hatred, or when they are required to prevent our enemy from falling into serious sin as, for example, by conceiving a deeper hatred for us. If a former friend asks our pardon for an injury which he has done us, and if the friendship was not a freely accepted union between us, but was more or less required by our mutual relations, we must be ready to show him again unusual signs of charity. If the friendship depended merely on our mutual liking, there will be no obligation to show unusual marks of charity after receiving an offence; what was freely given may be freely withheld, always supposing that there is no ill will. We may for a time even refuse the common and ordinary signs of charity toward another for a good reason. A superior, for example, may do so in order to correct an inferior who has offended him. An equal may do so for a time immediately after receiving an offence while the injury is still rankling in his heart ; to require not only repression of ill feeling, but the immediate exhibition of marks of charity for the offender, would be to lay too heavy a burden on poor human nature. It may also be lawful to refuse the ordinary signs of charity for a time toward one who has offended us in lighter matters as a suitable punishment, and as a means of preventing a repetition of such offences in future.

When one who has offended us apologizes and asks for pardon we are bound to forgive him and also at the proper time to show him the ordinary signs of charity. If, however, he has injured us, we have a right to compensation for the injustice, and charity does not compel us to forego our right. We may then require satisfaction for the injury and even bring an action in a court of law to recover it against the wrongdoer, without, of course, indulging any ill will.

With a view to reconciliation between enemies, it is the duty of him who gave the offence to apologize and to ask for pardon, unless a position of superiority makes this inadvisable. As a rule, it will not be necessary to make a formal request for pardon; satisfaction can usually be given to the offended party in a less formal way, and in a way that is less embarrassing to both parties. If both were in the wrong, the one who was most so, or the inferior, should be the first to seek reconciliation.

We sometimes find it difficult to associate with certain people; they try our temper; we can scarcely talk or think of them with patience. This is sinful, of course, if it is voluntary, and if it arises from ill will towards the person in question....

To refuse the ordinary signs of charity so as not to speak to another, or to refuse to have anything to do with him out of ill feeling, and to foster this for a considerable time, is of itself a grave sin. But in estimating the gravity of such a sin in practice, the cause and the strength of the ill feeling should be considered. If the refusal to have anything to do with another come from serious ill will, it will be a grievous sin ; otherwise it may be only venial, or if there be no ill will and a just cause, no sin at all.


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