AN AMAZING FACT: In February 2007, police in Hampton Bays, New York, received a call to investigate a report of a home with burst pipes. Upon entering the home they were stunned to find the partially mummified body of a man who had been dead for more than a year. He was found alone in the house, sitting in a chair in front of his television, which was still on. The Suffolk County medical examiner said Vincenzo Ricardo, 70, apparently died of natural causes. A local morgue assistant said evidently the home’s dry air had helped to preserve his remains.
Ricardo’s wife died years earlier, and he lived alone. He had diabetes and had gone blind, but he was still very independent. The amazing thing is that he hadn’t been heard from in over a year and nobody sounded the alarm. Evidently he had his bills set up to be paid automatically. Still, you would have thought someone would have
observed the lights never went off and the TV was constantly blaring. In addition, his mailbox was overflowing and yet no one seemed to notice even though it could be clearly seen by others. Neighbors said they just never thought to check on him. They had assumed Ricardo was in a hospital or nursing home.
It seems that the Bible’s teaching about caring for our neighbor has become a forgotten moral. A lawyer once asked Jesus, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25). When Jesus asked what the law taught, the man responded by quoting the Old Testament, including the injunction to love your neighbor. But then he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” In this context, Christ told the story of the good Samaritan. In essence, the story points out, “Our neighbor is anyone around us in need.”
How often has the Holy Spirit whispered to your heart to “check on your neighbor”? You might need to see if your neighbors are doing well physically, but don’t neglect to be sensitive to their spiritual well-being. Share literature with people around you. Offer to pray for hurting people you come into contact with. Reach out. Don’t assume everything is fine. They may be dying right next door to you.
KEY BIBLE TEXTS
And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Luke 10:30And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Luke 10:31