The other day I stopped by my neighbor’s apartment across the hall. It’s been a while since I stopped by because we haven’t crossed paths so much like before. Her husband passed away about 2 months ago, and she often now stays with her daughter. She is Russian and speaks very little English, and so conversations “in passing” are hard to sustain. But when I get time and I know she’s there, I go with my Google Translator on my phone. The other day that happened, and we were able to converse back and forth. She opened up her picture albums, and we went through everything. And afterwards I showed her some of my own on my phone. We spent an hour and a half talking and sharing pictures – through Google Translate! I was so glad to talk to her, and she’s going to help me plant a garden on the side of the house for some homegrown food. And she certainly could use the company for a while, living alone with the memories of her husband.
In John’s Gospel, when the first disciples start to follow Jesus, they ask him, “Where are you staying?” He says, “Come and see.” (Jn 1:38-39) It’s then that they leave behind their own reality and step into his world. Later on, those disciples are going to tell others that they’ve found the Messiah. It’s because when they entered into his world, they found the solution to all their problems.
God hands us a life with many problems, and then has the guts to tell us to love our neighbor. It can seem like an extra assignment in life, a burden for us that is really only for the retired who have a lot of extra time or the heroes with superhuman energy. So we complain to God. OK, mostly in a passive way. We don’t tell God off or give Him an earful. We just blow it off, become resentful, and develop an anxiety, an anger, even a hatred for anytime anything having to do with the concept of “love your neighbor”. Shouldn’t others be able to take care of themselves? Don’t I have to take care of myself and my family first – and I have a lot to do there, I’m always behind at that. I worked for where I am now, they should too. Shouldn’t Americans take care of Americans first, we’ve got a lot of our own problems! Passive aggressive ways to tell God He’s being unreasonable and unfair.
But that is the reason why God sends His Son to attract us and invite us and lead us to put all of our own lives aside and follow him into the world of our neighbors. It’s because God has given us the problems and bad and unfair stuff of life for a good reason:
He’s put the solutions in our neighbors.
We are actually not created to be independents. The solutions are not inside of ourselves. It’s through our relationships with our neighbors that everything gets resolved.
And so when we are aware of our problems and busyness and responsibilities, the things that weigh on us in life, and then we hear God say, “Love your neighbor,” He’s not giving us extra work.
He’s giving us the solution to it all.
Because He’s placed the solutions in our neighbors.
“Come and see.” (Jn 1:39)