I just love the interaction between Christ and the lawyer that we see in Luke 10. Christ asks: “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” The lawyer replies: “You shall love the Lord your God from all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Christ says: “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.”
This man is an expert in the Law; he knows his stuff, and more than that, he has a right understanding and a good interpretation of it. He understands that these two “laws”—neither of which come from the Ten Commandments, nor even from sections that we would usually consider law—that these two truly encompass the whole law of God. “Do this and you will live.” The parable that Jesus tells is to re-emphasize the rightness of what the lawyer said, but also to lead him to a full understanding of those two “laws”.
In the parable: The two who walked past the man lying half dead on the road were all caught up in the rules. The priest could not touch the man and still serve in the church. The Levite, the good Jew, also looked past the obvious good in an attempt to follow the rules.
But the other looked on this man with compassion. He applied wine and oil. We, too, need to apply wine and oil.
Wine on the wounds would sting. Wine is the strictness, the constraint, the severity, the asceticism. The oil would soothe. The oil is the gentleness, the kindness, knowing when love and compassion truly fulfill the rule.
Here we are in a fasting season, again. Wine…is following the fasting rules, because fasting kills the passions, cleanses us, benefits our soul. Oil is the compassion to understand that the cook of the house does not have more than a couple non-oil recipes, the compassion to understand that your coworker has done a good thing and needs to be affirmed, when he brought those donuts to celebrate making it to Friday.
Wine and oil are both needed. Oil alone does no good; the infection is not cleansed. And only wine…would likely have left that man to die on the road.
“You shall love the Lord your God from all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.”