Jesus replied, “There was a traveler going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, who fell prey to robbers. The traveler was beaten, stripped naked, and left half-dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road; the priest saw the traveler lying beside the road, but passed by on the other side. Likewise there was a Levite who came the same way; this one, too, saw the afflicted traveler and passed by on the other side.
“But a Samaritan, who was taking the same road, also came upon the traveler and, filled with compassion, approached the traveler and dressed the wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then the Samaritan put the wounded person on a donkey, went straight to an inn and there took care of the injured one. The next day the Samaritan took out two silver pieces and gave them to the innkeeper with the request, ‘Look after this person, and if there is any further expense, I’ll repay you on the way back.’
“Which of these three, in your opinion, was the neighbor to the traveler who fell in with the robbers?
The answer came, “The one who showed compassion.”
Jesus replied, “Then go and do the same
|She Became Frightened and Stopped Listening by Kelli Vance|
It is rather easy to map the Parable of the Good Samaritan on today’s dynamics. Les-bi-gay-trans-intersex-asexual-queer are among the ambushed and beaten. As vulnerable and half-dead outsiders, some parts of the religious community walk by us, indicating only contempt. Yes, this is a rather easy mapping – it's also an erroneous mapping.
The outsider – if we are to map queer folk as outside the mainstream – is the Samaritan who proves the hero. The person in the ditch is Jewish, a member of the inside clique, left to die by other members of the same inside clique.
As outsiders we might want to map the parable this way: There was a great convention of traditional-family advocates. A man begins to make his way to this convention, but on the journey is carjacked, beaten, robbed, and left for dead. Now it just so happens that the powerful woman sponsoring the convention is traveling the same route, comes upon the beaten man, and passes him by. So too, the convention’s keynoter comes across the man and leaves him there. Finally, a drag queen on her way to protest the convention finds the unfortunate soul laying unconscious in the gutter. She calls her friends and together they take the man to her place and nourish him back to health without asking for anything in return.
This mapping feels nice for we are not the victim but the hero! The mapping is comfortable and celebrates the compassion of the outsider; our queer compassion. Yet this mapping, too, is not quite right. It ignores the context of Jesus speaking to and prodding the “inside crowd.”
To map this parable appropriately we need to hear Jesus speaking to us as part of this inside group. Much like Vance's paintings - which mix sexual and agressive energies - are from the "inside." Giving us a glimpse into the harsh reality of how like may mistreat like.
Imagine Jesus draped in a rainbow tunic setting in a gay bar telling this story: "There was a lesbian traveling alone when she was attacked and beaten. Badly wounded she was left beside the road to die. Another lesbian going to Lilith Fair happened upon the scene, but passed by. After awhile a gay man going to Pride – this attack obviously happened in June – also passed by. Ultimately a queer-basher happened upon the half-dead lesbian. He stopped, attended her wounds, toke her to a hospital, and paid her medical bills."
Jesus levels his gaze at us and asks, "Who has offered acceptance and support?" We answer "The one who showed compassion." Jesus then offers us a simple challenge, "Go and do the same."
Sacred wisdom has put us in a bind. Compassion is not a commodity solely limited to our group. We must be humble and open enough to see it in our “haters.”