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Summary: How can we be a Good Samaritan in today’s society?

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This past week I was in Toronto at the Fringe Festival, which is a gathering of about 140 productions all put together over a 10 day period. I decided it was a good opportunity for me to get my feet wet and make my way to the big city all by myself. With going to Knox College hopefully in January 2008 I need to be able to make my way around. I parked at Yorkdale and took the subway downtown and did my thing. It was fun.

As I was making my way through the maze from the mall to the subway station there was a “busker” … for those who don’t know busking is when a person sits on the sidewalk and plays their instrument or performs in some way usually soliciting money … I have heard that people can make great money this way and it is usually non-taxable income!! You can find buskers in any city and on most streets. This has been an age old way of earning money and is seen as getting paid for a service or performance as opposed to simply begging. It is also a way of sharing your talent and your passion.

This man was incredible on his violin. The music was clear and so perfect … and had it not been in such an awkward location I might have stopped to listen for a bit. He was truly talented and skilled at his craft of playing the violin. As one tosses a quarter, loonie or a bill into this man’s case can we see this as being a Good Samaritan?

People sometimes regard buskers as a glorified way of begging. Street beggars who sit with a tin cup and sign asking for handouts do not perform or lend music as a thank you for your donation. With this in mind where is the line between begging and busking?

As I was returning from my downtown excursion and was rounding my way back to the Yorkdale mall my attention was drawn to a woman who was talking with a man in the covered walkway. He was giving her change from his pocket and as I approached them I came to the realization she was begging. She was engaged in conversation with the man and he reached into his pocket, pulled out a bit of change and she thanked him. As I passed her by I felt a surge of sadness that I couldn’t help her myself. Not because I didn’t have money in my pocket to give her but couldn’t help because my question is …. Will giving this woman a hand out really and truly help her? My heart is broken for this open-ended and highly debated question.

READ Luke – Good Samaritan

This text of the “Good Samaritan” is widely known in both Christian and secular circles. You can ask anyone anywhere about being a “good Samaritan” and they can quickly and easily rhyme off what it means.

The text as it is written is a political piece somewhat because it has to do with background and status. The first man who passes by the fallen Jew is a priest and according to my research has good reason for passing him by, it would jeopardize his “priesthood” secondly, a Levite passed him by as well and then the one to help is an archenemy to the Jewish people, the Samaritan who helps and provides first aid for this man. Despite the mutual antipathy (an-tip-uthy) between Samaritans and the Jewish population, he immediately rendered assistance by giving him first aid and taking him to an inn to recover while promising to cover the expenses. My question as I read the parable and relate it to its widely acclaimed and worldly reputation, is how many people could tell me what a “Samaritan” is …. A person from Samaria ….It has come to be kind of like “Kleenex” the branding of the name has taken on ownership of the item. A good Samaritan has come to mean a “good person” or “a person who gratuitously gives help or sympathy to those in distress.” Luke 10:30–37.


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