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What is true love unto the neighbor?
104,1. In order to know the foundation of the real true "love unto your neighbor" consists of, one must first know and thoroughly understand who really is a neighbor. Therein lies the main knot buried. One will say: how should one understand that? For the Lord Himself, as the sole representative of charity, has nowhere more detailed provisions. When the scribes asked Him who the neighbor was, He merely showed them in a parable who was a neighbor to the well-known, unfortunate Samaritan, namely a Samaritan himself, who took him to the inn and poured oil and wine into his wounds.
104,2. From this, however, it emerges that unfortunate people only have in certain circumstances "neighbors" to be their benefactors, and are therefore, conversely, the "neighbors" to their benefactors. So, if there are neighbors only in these circumstances, what neighbors would ordinary people have, who neither have to endure even a misfortune, nor at any time be able to help a victim? Is not there a more general text that describes the neighbor closer? For in this case only the highest distress and on the other side a great wealth, paired with a good heart, are contrasted as being neighbors to each other.
104,3. We therefore want to see if such broader texts do not exist. There would be one, and that is, "Bless those who curse you, and do good to your enemies!"
104,4. That would be a text from which it can be clearly seen that the Lord has greatly extended charity by not even excluding the enemies and those who curse you.
104,5. Another text reads, "Make friends with unjust Mammon." - What does the Lord mean by that? Nothing else than that man should not miss any opportunity to do good to his neighbor. He only allows in the external sense, a public seizing of the goods of a rich man, if it would help many, or at least several needy, but only in the highest emergency.
104,6. Further, we find a text where the Lord says: "Whatsoever ye do good to one of these poor in My name, ye have done to Me." This sentence is confirmed by the Lord in the presentation of the "most recent" or spiritual judgement, when He says to the elect: "I came naked, hungry, thirsty, sick, imprisoned, and without a roof or a shed, and you received Me, cared for Me, clothed Me, saturated Me and quenched My thirst"; and for the rejected ones, that they did not do so. The good ones apologized as if they never did it, and the wicked, as if they would have done so I He would have come to them. The Lord then clearly says:
104,7. "Whatever you did or did not do to the poor in My name, you did to Me."
104,8. From this text, the true charity is already quite clearly highlighted, and it will be shown who are therefore the real neighbor.
104,9. But we want to look at a text. So this one reads: "If you prepare a banquet there will be no invitations for those who can repay you with a reciprocal party. You will not have a reward in heaven for that, for you have received such in the world. But if you invite the needy, lame, brash, in every way poor people, who cannot repay you, you will have your reward in heaven. So also lend your money to those who cannot repay you, so you will store up reward for the heavens. But if you lend your money to those who can repay you and with interest, then you have your reward here. If you give alms, then do so silently, and your right hand should not know what the left does. And your Father in Heaven, who sees in secret, will bless and reward you in heaven!"
104,10. I mean, from these texts one can almost grab with the hands, who the Lord regard to be the actual neighbor. That's why we want to see what meaning it contains.
104,11. Everywhere we see that the Lord only putting poor people over against the wealthy. Why? Nothing other than that the poor are designated and placed before the wealthy as the true neighbor of the Lord, and not rich over against rich and poor over against poor. The rich over against the rich can only consider themselves as neighbors if they unite for equally good, God-pleasing purposes. However, the poor are also one another's neighbors, if they also join together as much as possible in patience and in love for the Lord as well as brotherly among themselves.
104,12. The first degree of charity thus always remains between the wealthy and the poor, and between the strong and the weak, and is in the same proportion as that between parents and children.
104,13. But why should the poor to the wealthy, the weak to the strong, and the children to the parents be considered the closest of neighbors? For no other than the following simple reason than that the Lord, as the closest to every man, according to His own expression, preferably represents Himself in the poor and weak as in the children of this world. For He Himself speaks: "Whatsoever ye do to the poor, ye have done to Me!" - If you do not always have Me personally in your midst, then you will always have the poor (as the Lord wanted to say)as My perfect representatives among you.
104,14. So the Lord also says of a child: "He who receives such a child in My Name will receive Me."
104,15. From all this, however, it is clear that men have more or less to consider each other according to their degree of "neighbor," the more or less they are filled with the Spirit of the Lord. But the Lord does not give his Spirit to the rich of the world, but only to the poor, the weak and the secular. The poor man is thereby more and more filled with the Spirit of the Lord, because he is poor, for poverty is a major part of the Spirit of the Lord.
104,16. Those who are poor, resemble the Lord in their poverty, while the rich cannot. They do not know the Lord. But He knows the poor. Therefore the poor should be the neighbor to the rich, to which they, the rich, must come if they want to approach the Lord; for the rich cannot possibly regard themselves as the neighbor of the Lord. The Lord Himself has shown the infinite gap between Him and them in the story of the rich glutton. Only the poor Lazarus He places in the bosom of Abraham, so as to be close to Him, the Lord.
104,17. Thus, even at the event of the rich youth, the Lord showed who should be his neighbor before he could come again to the Lord and follow him. And everywhere the Lord represents the poor as well as the children as one's neighbor, or even as His formal representatives. These are to be loved by the wealthy as well as they do themselves, but those of their kind, they should not. For that is why the Lord said that this commandment of charity is equal to the first, with which He would say nothing other than: What you do to the poor, you do to Me!
104,18. But that the rich should not consider each other as neighbour, is evident from what the Lord says, that the rich should not invite the rich as their guests and lend their money to the rich, as well as from the fact that He did not command the rich youth to distribute his goods among the rich, but among the poor.
104,19. But if some rich man wants to say: My closest neighbors are my children, I say: By no means! For the Lord took only one poor child, who begged on the way, and said, "He who receives such a child in My name, he will receive Me." The Lord never had anything to do with children of the rich.
104,20. For that reason, when the king cares anxiously for his children, he commits a very strong sin against charity. The rich man cares best for his children by caring for a well-pleasing education, and not saving his fortune for his children, but giving the greater part of it to the poor. If he does that, the Lord will take his children and will lead them on the best way. If he does not do that, the Lord turns His face away from them, withdraws His hands, and leaves already their tenderest youths to the hands of the world, that is, the hands of the devil, and they become worldly children, worldly men, saying as much as, being devils themselves.
104,21. If you knew how down to the lowest, third degree of hell all family capital and especially the inalienable inheritance are cursed by the Lord in the most terrible way, you would be frozen in terror and fear and your hearts would become petrified like a diamond!
104,22. Hence all the rich, wherever they may be, should heed this as much as possible, avert their hearts as much as possible from their riches, and thus, with the riches, do as much good as possible, if they want to escape eternal inferno. For on the other side there is a twofold melancholy, a vast, gloomy place, from which only inconceivably narrow paths lead, on which the wanderers fare not much better than the camel facing the eye of the needle. But there is also an eternal hellish condition from which, as far as I know, there are no paths yet. So let the rich, as well as anyone who possesses so much that he can still dosomething for the poor, take heed. But from this it is now shown what the true charity consists of. Such it is also taught and practiced here in the sun. But how this happens we will examine in more detail later.
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