Does Loving Our Neighbor Mean Giving Him Everything?

448px-Drolling,_Michel_-_Alms_to_the_Poor_-_19th_cThere are some who claim that the Divine Commandment to love one’s neighbor as oneself means to treat all with equal charity. Such a misconception can have disastrous effects upon an economy or society, since it is not possible to give everything to everyone.

Read the article: Why Property is Needed

Saint Thomas Aquinas, commenting on Saint Augustine’s observations, claims that in loving one’s neighbor, one must make a distinction between “benevolence” or “goodwill” which means desiring a good for others without actually providing it, and “beneficence” or “doing good” which means actually providing what others need out of one’s own scarce goods.

Saint Thomas notes: “As regards beneficence we are bound to observe inequality, because we cannot do good to all: but as regards benevolence, love ought not to be thus unequal.”

(As cited in John D. Mueller, Redeeming Economics: Rediscovering the Missing Element, ISI Books, Wilmington, Delaware, 2010, p. 142.)