“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” ― Mother Teresa

We had a wonderful family Christmas. Me, my wife, and my two beautiful kids. Presents, cinnamon rolls, music, the tree, lights, the Christmas story…praying and singing together…walks around the neighborhood with new scooters and toy strollers for new dolls…more cinnamon rolls. It was picturesque, really.

As part of our Christmas we dropped cookies off with a few of our neighbors…we had been feeling a desire to reach out for a while.

At 9 p.m. on Christmas night, a single gentleman that lives across the street came by our house to say thanks for the cookies and give us a last minute Christmas card. When I asked him how his Christmas Day had been, he gave a little uncomfortable laugh, shrugged, and said,

“Well, you know, it was okay…just me and the dog…”

Despite the awkwardness of the moment, he was obviously incredibly grateful for even the little bit human contact our card and cookies afforded him.

I’ve lived across the street from this kind, friendly, Christian man for over year. I never asked him his plans for Christmas. I had no idea that he had no place to go and no one to be with on Christmas morning.

There I was, having a perfect Christmas while my literal neighbor, my Christian brother, sat alone across the street. A day like most others, I’ve come to realize.

* * *

Since when, biblically speaking, did our neighbor stop being our neighbor? I mean, I get that the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:29-37 expanded our definition of neighbor to all those we come in contact with, but at what point did it exclude the people we live closest to?

I’m gonna go out on limb and say it didn’t.

I’ve created a life where I am so busy and so concerned about other things that I barely recognize the need right in front of me.

I don’t even know the names of the people that live in the house directly across from me.

It’s easy to judge the priest and religious leaders in story that Jesus told, because they were blind to their neighbor. They didn’t show love to the person right in front of them that so desperately needed it.

Turns out I have same problem.