Read the Gospel of Mark in the midst of a pandemic and there is one thing that should jump out at you, Jesus spends a lot of time healing people. Crowds came to him. Many were sick. He healed them. Walking among them, hour after hour. Healing all the sick that came to him even if it meant staying late into the night.
So, I ask a question: Is healthcare a political issue or a religious one? Should Christians have a position on how the vaccine gets distributed within our country? I mean people often tie their faith to political issues. A popular bumper sticker says, “God, guts, and guns, keep all three.” Many people this week were protesting, saying that they are against abortion because they are Christians. How is that different from me saying that I am for universal, equitable, and affordable healthcare because I am a Christian? I am willing to admit that two people of faith can come to different opinions about almost anything. As we seek to work together though, we should commit ourselves to prayerful discernment. In a nutshell, Christian ethics supports those actions that are compassionate, rooted in the careful examination of current reality, and respectful of laws and procedures that guarantee justice for all. Even if something seems ‘political,’ we should advocate those positions that are aligned with Christian ethics.
Notice what Jesus is doing. He is providing healthcare. His healthcare had three features:
It was Universal — this means that the crowds showed up and he healed everyone. He didn’t ask who was insured. He didn’t require people to have faith or confess a certain religious creed. He didn’t even care if the person was from Israel. What would happen if healthcare in the United States was universal? For one thing, the death rate for COVID-19 wouldn’t be so much higher among people of color.
Equitable — this means that Jesus didn’t provide more healing and miracles for those who were rich than he did for those who were poor. In the US, healthcare is tied to your employment. This prevents it from ever being equitable. Very few developed countries do what we do.
Affordable — Jesus charged nothing. We tend to say, “You get what you pay for.” That saying is nowhere in the Bible. It is a luxury to be able to pay more for something. Many people live on the edge of subsistence. We should be mindful of them as we line up for our vaccine or drive by the local food bank. This may be why Jesus said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than to enter heaven. The definition of privilege is in our lack of awareness of how the poor struggle for basic necessities. The camel has no interest in squeezing through a needle, just as we might have no interest in hearing how our neighbors are crying out for justice and economic equity.
The pandemic has provided us an opportunity to reflect upon the sick that crowded around Jesus. Until this year, we were distant from those crowds. Now, we join them in their anxiety. They were as baffled by their mystery illnesses, like leprosy and epilepsy, as we are by COVID-19. They looked to Jesus and the healthcare he provided. Today, Christians must work together to provide healthcare in Jesus’ name.