For months I have been couching the health care debate into a Christian context. I believe that basic health care is not only a right, but in a Christian context is mandated by the Gospels.
Let's put this in terms of our salvation, since that is another hot button issue. Where would we be today if John 3:16-18 had said, "For God so loved the Jews that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who is Jewish may not perish but may have eternal life, Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the Jews, but in order that only the Jewish might be saved through him. Only those who follow the Torah are not condemned; but those who do not are condemned already, because they have not believed in the Law of Moses."? Praise God that is not the case!
What if Jesus had turned away the Centurion, the representation of Roman oppression in Palestine, when he asked for healing for his favorite servant? What if Jesus had stood His ground with the Cannite woman who asked for healing for her child? He very well could have. Instead, He gave them what they asked for, healing. Then He gave himself for all of us, black, brown and white, male and female, gay and straight, sick and well, Christian and Non-Christian. He did these things without conditions. How can we, who claim to follow Him do any less?
In the gospel reading for this coming week, Jesus says, "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them." In participating in the Eucharist, we believe that either symbolically or literally we are doing just that. It is a physical action of "letting Jesus into our hearts" to be our Lord and Savior. Stop and think on that for a second. In accepting Him as Lord, aren't we then saying we will do His will? What is his will? Matthew 25 pretty well sums it up:
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'”
If we don't do this, then how can we say that He is Lord of our lives? In denying those most in need, are we not thumbing our noses at Christ? This is why there is such a need for honest health care reform in this nation. We are the richest, most powerful nation in the world, and we still have one of the highest infant mortality rates in the industrialized world! Families each day have to choose between paying their rent or mortgage and paying for treatment for cancer. This should not be!
It seems rather ironic that many of the people who before were promoting and selling the WWJD bracelets and T-shirts are now on the forefront of the healthcare debate urging us to do just the opposite of what He did. To be a Christian means to be the hands of Christ within the world. If we cannot do this for the least of these, how can we say that we are Christians? Is basic healthcare something that only those that can afford it should have, or is it something that everyone is entitled to? To quote Rev. Deacon Gary Baird, “Today Jesus is laying the sick and lame at our feet and is asking, ‘What will you do?’”