Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
September 1st, 2009

Tom Purcell

Accounting Department
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Tuesday in the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time
1 Thessalonian 5:1-6, 9-11
Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14
Luke 4:31-37

As happens many times when I contemplate the readings before I write these short reflections, something from everyday life inextricably meshes in my mind with the words of scripture.  So too with these passages for today.  I have been following the pending legislative initiatives for U.S. health care reform, and some of the “dialogue” has both amazed and frightened me.  And when I place that context against today’s readings, I am more troubled because many of the participants in the process profess to follow the teachings of Christ!

Paul reminds us that we get lulled by complacency until a sudden disaster comes upon us, and we find it difficult to escape.  But if we are living together with Christ, if we are alert and sober, IF WE ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER AND BUILD ONE ANOTHER UP, then we do not need to fear.

The listeners in the synagogue were in awe of the healing and restorative power of Jesus when they asked if He had come to destroy them.  Their discomfort was because they believed that Jesus spoke with authority, and what He said (and did) caused them to rethink centuries of culture and tradition, established patterns that provided the rhythm to their lives.  His call to change and to put aside pre-conceptions made them uncomfortable in their desire to have certainty.

The psalmist offers a hopeful, positive message.  Trust in the Lord, that you will see the good things of the Lord in this land of the living.  Hopeful, but hard.  How can we see the glass as half full when so many call us to look at the empty part?  Have you seen the “good things of the Lord” in this, our land of the living?  Have you looked – really looked, with the right attitude, with open eyes and hearts?

So why do these passages resonate for me in the current political climate?  I believe we are called to share what we have; to work tirelessly until those least among us have raised themselves, or they have been raised as high as possible with our help; that every human being has certain rights as a member of society regardless of their means or abilities.  So it troubles me that significant numbers of people in the U.S., and even more in many other countries and lands in the world, are without basic health care choices.  I don’t care why they don’t have the options, only that they don’t.  I don’t recall Jesus saying feed the hungry unless they are deadbeats and should be out working, or care for the sick unless the care they need reduces what I think I deserve (which is really the basis of the fussing about rationing).  I don’t think Paul would recognize encouragement in statements made (about provisions of pending bills) that are patently and outrageously false, nor would he see it as building one another up when people attend open forums and shout down the speaker solely so they can make their points or get favorable media coverage.  And I suspect the psalmist would be mystified that we in the U.S. who have so much would be unable to see the goodness of the Lord that has blessed us, and perhaps be dismayed that we squander our inheritance in selfishness.

Are all people entitled to health care?  Am I called to care for my sister?  Who among us would not reduce some of our own personal consumption to make sure our child was able to acquire needed medicine or health care?  If I am asked by my government to pay a little more tax so a person without health options can be given some basic care, am I not caring for my brother as I would care for myself?  Would Jesus be shouting at a public forum, or at a television screen, or in a gathering of friends, that we can’t afford to provide real health choices to all who are in need?

And so my prayer today is for the grace to encourage and build up, to look with fresh eyes at this land in which I am living so I can see and appreciate the good things of the Lord, and to continue to contemplate the authentic message that is from Jesus my Savior.

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