April 18, 2010:
“Tale-Yax was walking behind a man and a woman on 144th Street in the Jamaica section of Queens around 6 a.m. April 18 when the couple got into a fight that became physical, according to police, who pieced together what happened from surveillance footage and interviews with area residents.
“Tale-Yax was stabbed several times when he intervened to help the woman, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. She and the other man fled in different directions, and Tale-Yax pursued the man before collapsing. Authorities are searching for the man and woman.”
“The homeless man lay face down, unmoving, on the sidewalk outside an apartment building, blood from knife wounds pooling underneath his body.
“One person passed by in the early morning. Then another, and another. Video footage from a surveillance camera shows at least seven people going by, some turning their heads to look, others stopping to gawk. One even lifted the homeless man's body, exposing what appeared to be blood on the sidewalk underneath him, before walking away.
“It wasn't until after the 31-year-old Guatemalan immigrant had been lying there for nearly an hour that emergency workers arrived, and by then, it was too late.”
Approximately 30 AD:
In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
I wish I could remember who said it, but there is a quote that says something along the lines of the following:
“The fallenness of man is at once the most independently verifiable fact and yet the most willfully resisted truth.”
As this story shows us, some things never change. I wonder how many people who are lambasting those who walked by would actually have done any differently if they were in that position. We all like to think we would do better, but usually when we are put to the test, we fail.
In this case, I guarantee you that most of the people who walked by convinced themselves that this person was simply drunk, or had chosen that place to fall asleep and therefore did nothing. In fact they are probably still justifying their actions to themselves this morning. The fallen human soul has an incredible ability to justify some of the most atrocious acts we carry out, acts that we would condemn if we saw them in others.
Everything about this story is tragic. But the sad ending is that most people reading this story will condemn the actions of the passers by without realizing that this is but one more example of mankind’s fallen nature, and this event really should cause them to look inside themselves. People don’t like self-reflection, at least not when it leads to self-condemnation. But that is often the first step in the Christian gospel.