Parables are never what they seem. They have a clever way of enticing us to figure out what is really going on beneath the surface. One of the real questions in this parable is: Who offers correct worship to God? Jesus spoke about a God who was not concerned with the constraints of the Temple, but who was on the streets. Look at what the Samaritan did for the man on the road: he bound his wounds, he poured oil on them, he took him to an inn. These are all action words. The emphasis in this parable is on action and compassion. The Samaritan is considered to be an outcast, yet Jesus makes him the hero of this story, no doubt causing outrage to those who were listening to Him. The priest and Levite were most likely carrying oil and wine on their person; in the case of the priest, these items were needed for making sacrifices in the Temple. Coincidently these items were also a vital part of a first century first aid kit, needed for cleaning the wounds of the injured man.
The lawyer is concerned with the limits to ‘love of neighbour.’ But there are no limits, no boundaries, no outsiders in God’s Kingdom. Holiness is not separation from the marginalised, but proximity to them.
Since once again Lord, I have neither bread, nor wine, nor altar, I will raise myself beyond these symbols, up to the pure majesty of the real itself; I will make the whole Earth my altar and on it will offer you all the labours and sufferings of the world. Teilhard de Chardin – TríonaDoherty@Intercom