A man inquired of the Lord about the possible ways of attaining eternal life.  Jesus’ answer was scriptural, sensible and simple.  Love God in an intense and dedicated way and love your neighbor as yourself.
While there was no mistaking the sense Jesus meant when he said: “Love God,” the man had a little confusion about the meaning of Jesus’ words: “Love your neighbor.”  So the asked again: “Who is my neighbor?”  It is obvious that in this area of love, the man really needed a clarification.  And Jesus did provide such, giving us in the end, the beautiful parable of the Good Samaritan.
Who really is our neighbor?  Any dictionary will bring you to the etymology of this word.  A neighbor is one who is near, one who is related, one who is “just next door.”  A neighbor does not have to be always a stranger you meet for the first time.  Instead, there is the quality of proximity, nearness to that other, whether physically or emotionally.
A Tagalog word for neighbor is “kapwa” and it conveys the idea of being “same” or “both.”  Your neighbor is one with whom you enjoy something similar, an identical experience, when you are “in the same boat.”
So what’s the problem about the loving the neighbor close or near to you?  Isn’t love really easy enough to muster when you are close to a person?  That may be true.  But it is also true that when a person is so near, then you begin to notice not only his perfect points but his deficiencies as well.  When a person is close to you, then you slowly discover for yourself the unpleasant traits that other people do not notice about him.
And when a person is close to you, not only do you notice the details of his personal defects.  These defects are even magnified.  You begin to get irritated.  You can’t bear it all the time.  You become nauseated at the sight and in the presence of your neighbor.  Maybe this explains the uneasiness of the man who approached Jesus with the question about his neighbor!
So our neighbor lives in the same house with us. He works in the same office with us.  He rides the same train or jeepney with us.  He lives in the same street and goes to the same parish.  And many times, this neighbor, this person is the one we want to avoid the most.
There is no question in the gospel about loving God.  How can you not do so?  God is the ever-lovable Lord who is reigning in heaven. The question is about the neighbor, the one sitting next to you, whose real self begins to show itself each day.  And it is a real struggle to love such a person each day.
Who is the neighbor we are having struggles to love or accept or forgive?  He may not come in the form of a beaten, half-dead man on the streets. Instead he may be a familiar face. Ask God for the strength to continue to love him.