01 September 2009

Health Care from a Different View

I know, some of us are pretty tired of the debate already, but I wanted to share with you some thoughts I have been having lately regarding the debate.

A few days ago, I read a letter in a local paper that really got me thinking.  It was from a local pastor who talked about his health care coverage and how it affected him and his family.  While they were pretty much covered, they have a son with Down Syndrome.  He talked about the anxiousness and worry because of the 'pre-existing condition' if his son ever needed medical insurance of his own.

But that wasn't really what his letter was about.  It was about some of the people in his parish.  He talked about the elderly, the widowed, the unemployed, etc.  And he lumped them all into the category of 'the least of these'.  As you recall, Jesus said, 'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'  Have you ever experienced not really getting a point until someone explains it again or someone else explains it to you?  That little letter from the local pastor did just that.  I finally got the point.

For a while now I could see both sides of the issue pretty well.  And, admittedly, I was a fence walker -- both sides made very good points.  The only way forward that I saw was one of constant battle and it looked to be a long one.

But then, with that one letter, the flood gates on the 'pro' side were flung wide open and I could view the sea of people who fall into the category of 'the least of these' and the conversation was over.  Not so much about how we need to fix the health care system, but the conversation about needing to at all.

As a follower of Jesus, it is my vocation to focus my life on the things that Jesus cared about, and that would include the marginalized in our society.  Sure, things may be fine for me, but I'm not one of the least among us.  The context of that quote (Matthew 25), refers to how we treat those in prison, sick, hungry, etc.  In other words, the focus is not on the souls of the marginalized, but on their physical needs.  Too often, the Church seems only concerned about the souls of people.  Well, to be fair, most of the Churches in my area only seemed concerned about the souls of people.  Your neighborhood is probably a lot better.  But I doubt it.  According to many of the things attributed to Jesus, caring for the 'least of these' was a top priority.  And how we treat them is how we treat him.  This reminds me of seeing Christ in all people.  Do we see that?  Do we see Jesus as the person whose down on her luck and has no health care and is in need of our assistance.

'I barely have enough resources to cover my own needs and those of my families.  There is no way that I can help with his.'

And that's why health care reform is needed so desperately.  Since the Church is unable to meet this need, then the government should do it's best to do so.  It all comes down to loving others as Christ loves us.  Shouldn't we be putting our own needs aside and making certain that others needs are met?  We do that for our children, why don't we do that for our fellow human beings, those people who are made in the image of God -- our brothers and sisters in humanity?  We are called to give more than we are asked to give -- walk the extra mile, give our shirt as well as our coat, etc.  We are called to empty ourselves for others, for creation.  Are we giving ourselves for the least of these our brothers and sisters?  If not, then we are not doing so for Jesus either.  We are just playing games and it is costing us and the rest of creation dearly.

~~~
In the Grace of the Three in One,
OD