I am currently an exchange student in Japan. A couple of weeks ago, on Christ the King, a man suddenly contacted me after Sunday Mass and asked me to do something together, like eating dinner, me visiting his home or going to Tokyo together. I immediately realized there was some problem with this guy (some kind of mental disorder), but since the gospel of that Sunday was the one about “whatever you have done to the least of these who are my brothers, you have done for me”, I supposed I couldn’t just ignore him. So I talked with him for a long time after Mass, and we went together to a burger’s shop.
The next Sunday he wanted me to visit his home, and asked me to come directly after Mass instead of helping with the big cleaning of the church which otherwise everyone else helped with. This guy is 43 years old but lives with his parents since he doesn’t have any work and didn’t finish school. His dad apparently just lies on the floor all day reading the newspaper or something, while his mom is out somewhere. I tried to take the opportunite to teach him about the Christian faith, but since I am not that good at Japanese yet, it’s not very easy to conversate. He asks about the best method to make new friends and how to make sure you go to heaven after you die, and is very eager to know when I can meet him next time. I started to feel quite uneasy about this.
The Sunday after that I sang with the choir in the Christmas consert after Mass, and after that there was a small assembly for just the choir members. However, this guy didn’t want to part even though I said good bye to him after the consert, and went uninvited to the choir members’ assembly. Because of this, the other choir members obviously noticed that there was some problem with this guy. So I asked the priest what to do about it, who have also had some contact with this man. The priest gave me the advice not to meet this man anymore, since he need some professional help which either he nor me can provide. This made me feel very relieved.
Last Sunday, I tried to explain to this man that we couldn’t meet anymore outside of church. When he understood this, he said to me that he has thought about committing suicide. As a first step, he smokes all the time in order to die quickly. I tried to explain that you definitely can’t go to heaven if you commit suicide, and it made him dissapointed to hear that “that’s what they teach in your country, too”.
The next time I see him, I will give him the phone number to the mental health care, but he says he has already been in contact with them and that they only let him speak to them for five minutes, whereas the priest lets him speak for an hour.
What can I do, really? Is it my responsibility to make this guy happy? How can I harshly turn him down when I know that he might commit suicide if he continues to feel that nobody wants to be with him? And how are any of us supposed to be able to celebrate a happy Christmas, knowing that there are this kind of desperately unhappy persons in our neighbourhood?