- Prof Jayne Clapton, School of Human Services and Social Work, Griffith University, Meadowbrook, Queensland, Australia
The Embracing Innkeeper in the Parable of the Good Samaritan
The Parable of the Good Samaritan, as told by Jesus, in Luke 10: 25-37 is a well- known story often used to exemplify who represents a good ‘neighbour’. The cast is memorable: the beaten man, ignored by a passing priest and Levite; and a Samaritan who showed pity to the Man by tending his wounds and then taking him to an inn. The next day, the Samaritan paid the Innkeeper to care for the hurt Man, promising reimbursement for any extra costs on his return. The Samaritan, seen as an enemy of the Jews, shows an ethical response of care, compassion and mercy in his embracing of an ‘other’ in need. Jesus uses this parable for ‘us’ to do likewise over the centuries, many Christian individuals and institutions have indeed responded in a like charitable manner to those perceived as ‘other’, including people with disability. But what of the Innkeeper in the story of which little is said. A stranger with a choice to exclude or embrace, the Innkeeper welcomes the Samaritan and an injured Man for whom s/he is entrusted to care. He is also trusting that the Samaritan will return to pay more if needed. This paper explores the ethical responses that the Innkeeper exhibits; and asks questions about what is the relevance for us today? For example, how can an ethics of care, acceptance and hospitality change the church’s response to people with disability from that of charity to that of belonging?