Posted by: Nancy Day-Achauer | June 22, 2009

Healthcare and Christian Faith

Healthcare is a hot topic these days with all the talk about healthcare reform and potential government involvement. Everyone has an opinion; some opinions are based on ideology, some on economics, and some on misinformation. Unfortunately, too many people are putting self-interest at the forefront of their decision making process. Additionally, many people have conflicting feelings about the topic – they wish everyone had access to affordable healthcare but not if taxpayers have to pay for it. The harsh reality is that there are no easy answers to the problem of healthcare in America and I am not going to offer any here today. I am only going to offer food for thought, something to consider when formulating your own opinion.

Before I continue I need to make a disclosure. We all have biases and you should know mine up front. 1. I used to work for the SVP/General Counsel of Catholic Healthcare West, a large not-for-profit hospital system on the West Coast. 2. I have very good medical insurance through my husband’s work. 3. I’m a United Methodist pastor. Those three things influence my opinion but what influences my opinion most is that I believe in Jesus Christ and Jesus provided quality healthcare to people who couldn’t afford it.

The lectionary passage for Sunday, June 28 is Mark 5:21-43 where Jesus heals the hemorrhaging woman and restores a young girl’s life. Jesus was a healer; he lived in a time when most people did not have access to the healthcare that was available in their time. Many simply could not afford it. Others, like the woman in this passage, couldn’t find quality healthcare. This woman had spent all she had on physicians and still wasn’t cured. What was true back then is still true today. The woman was fortunate enough to have Jesus walk by and she touched his cloak and was healed.

People in need of healthcare today don’t have the option of touching Jesus’ cloak but they can be touched by the body of Christ that is present in the world today. We Christians are the body of Christ; we are to be his hands and feet in this world. We are called to live out his ministry on earth now and that means we need to find ways to heal people. Jesus didn’t deny people because they were out of work or because they couldn’t afford it. He didn’t restrict his healing powers to people who fell within a certain demographic either. He certainly didn’t leave it up to the market system to take care of it. He took action. We’ve all heard the saying “What would Jesus do?” Well, he wouldn’t deny people healthcare or tell them they were on their own, he would provide it.

Jesus had a different healthcare delivery system than we have today. It is up to us to find a system that delivers healthcare in a way that reflects our Christian values. That’s going to require using critical thinking skills instead of buying into political ideologies and it’s going to require putting our faith into action. Christians need to become informed and participate in the public dialogue, this matter is too important to allow politicians to have the only say. It’s time to step up to the plate Christians and put our faith into action. Are we sheep or are we goats? (Mt 25:31-46)

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PS. I don’t usually plug organizations but there are some great resources (issue books, reports, and forums) for dialogue on healthcare available through the National Issues Forum at http://www.nifi.org.

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Responses

  1. Very well stated, Nancy. I pariticularly appreciated the connection with the upcoming lectionary reading and healing through the Body of Christ. Healthcare is a critical issue. Thank you for your sensitive reflections on this.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful post, Nancy. We all miss you here at Catholic Healthcare West and are thrilled that you’re doing so well.

    Healthcare reform continues to be a big advocacy effort for us here. We’re still pushing for universal access and affordability (among many other social justice issues).

  3. Right you are, Nancy…it’s too important to neglect or to continue to entrust to the politicians and lobbyists. Posted another look at health care on my blog just a few minutes ago…let’s get serious on the issue as people of faith and people of reason!

  4. Nancy, thank you. Beautifully stated.


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