THE OBJECT OF CHARITY IS A MAN, ALSO A SOCIETY, ALSO ONE'S COUNTRY, ALSO THE HUMAN RACE; AND ALL ARE THE NEIGHBOUR IN A NARROW AND IN A WIDE SENSE.
That a man is the neighbour is well known. A society is the neighbour because a society is a composite man; one's country is the neighbour because it consists of many societies, and so is a more composite man; and the human race is the neighbour because it is composed of large societies, each one of which is a man in composite form, hence it is a man in the widest sense.
Let these things be explained in this order:
(1) Every individual man is the neighbour according to the quality of his good.
(2) A society, small or large, is the neighbour according to the good of its use.
(3) One's country is the neighbour according to its spiritual, moral, and civil good.
(4) The human race is the neighbour in the widest sense; but, because it is distinguished into empires, kingdoms, and republics, any one of these is a neighbour according to the good of its religion, and according to the good which it performs to one's country and to itself.