If you ever want to put “love your neighbour” to the test, just visit an airport.
You know I love America (the real one behind the billboards) but I am often critical of the things that form the world’s opinion about the US and I am sure airports do a good job at that. It seems that everything in the US is designed to both suck every dollar out of your pocket or drain every bit of joy and brotherly love from your heart.
Case in point – air travel: crammed into an aluminium tube, no leg room, bad food (or $3 mini cans of Pringles) only to be deposited in a cattle pen called an airport – overpriced food, bad air, rude workers and low standards for comfort and convenience and all this at elevated prices.
It is easy to become grumpy and I have to admit I usually am when flying, at least inwardly. I try not to let it out on people around me. Why? Because in the end we are all in it together: my fellow passengers talking too loudly for me to sleep, the one holding forth in the middle of the seating area as though they were hired as guest speakers, the rude, pushy workers and invasive TSA agents. They are equally God’s children and my neighbours just trying to make a living and do what they are required to do, all the while putting up with grumpy people, who, if not outwardly grumpy, are certainly not sunny and bouncy.
Jesus words in Matthew 22 remind us, or should remind us, we are called to love our neighbour and not just when it is convenient to do so or just when we are feeling sunny and bouncy. Why? Because we are called to love our neighbours as ourselves. I am sure part of my grumpiness comes from a self-love that says, “Hey Frederick, you deserve better than this.” In the end it would be great if we all got something better than overpriced food, bad air, noise, discomfort and inconvenience.
Unfortunately for many people in this world the discomforts I/we face in the airport are a daily occurrence. For the poor food is always overpriced. For the homeless who “sleep out” discomfort is always a companion and there is never a shortage of rudeness in either thought or deed. How easy it is to turn down a request for help with a growling “NO” or toss off a “I work for my money,” or “Get a Job.”
So as we go through our daily lives this week and are hit with all these “hardships’ that test our patience let us remember there are many people in this world who cannot go home, make a sandwich, plop down in the easy chair and put it all behind them. If their hardships are going to be alleviated it is incumbent upon us to do it – to love our neighbour. As Christ alleviated our burden so too are we called to alleviate the burden of others.
And, oh yes, like in the airport: we should all try to be a little more patient and little nice to one another. The world would be a much better place.
Merciful and gracious God, help me to have patience to see the blessings you give and the love and motivation to be a blessing to others. Help me to truly love my neighbour as myself. AMEN.