4th Sunday in Lent – March 19, 2023
Last weekend, we explored our responses to those who are on the margins of society or who had been written off, and what God’s justice requires of us.
This weekend, we’ll explore the justice dimensions related to healthcare and well-being and how we can be vehicles of healing grace in our troubled world.
Once upon a time, three people approached the pearly gates of heaven, where they were met by St. Peter.
He asks the first, “What did you do on earth?”
“I was a doctor. I healed the sick and, if they couldn’t pay, I would help them for free.”
St. Peter told the Doctor, “Welcome into Paradise, my child!”
St. Peter then turned to the next in line. “And what did you do?”
The woman replied, “I was a special needs teacher and I helped them to be integrated at school.”
St. Peter smiled at her and replied, “Welcome into the Kingdom of Heaven!”
St. Peter then turned to the third person, “And what did you do?”
The man bowed his head low and muffled his reply, “I ran a large health insurance company.”
To which St. Peter replied, “You too, enter the kingdom of Heaven, but you can only stay for 3 days.”
Healthcare! —Something we all need access to and something many of us can’t live without! And sometimes, when we do need medical care, we run into injustices or problems that we just can’t seem to fix on our own.
That’s the plight of the man born blind in today’s gospel.
The religious culture of the time had no mercy on him and viewed the man’s blindness as a just punishment for some sin he or his family must have committed. And such excuses meant that the society in which the man lived, was absolved from having to help the man, in any way.
And it’s that looking-the-other-way-by-society and that judging-the-other-person as responsible for their disability that motivates Jesus to act with tenderness and mercy toward the man born blind and to restore his sight. Using his saliva, Jesus makes mud and smears it on the man’s eyes and tells him simply to wash in the pool of Siloam, to have his vision restored. And true to Jesus’ counsel, once the man does as Jesus asks, the man’s gains his vision for the first time in his life!
On a theological level, there’s a reason Jesus chooses the Pool of Siloam.
- from the Hebrew word, ‘Siloah,’ = ‘abundance or gift.’
Jesus is sending the blind man…..
- to receive an abundance of God’s grace and mercy.
- to receive a gift that would never be able to be repaid.
- To give him the gift of new sight, new vision,a new faith in Him.
Water, the perfect symbol of this great gift,
- foreshadowing the gift of baptism when our sins are washed away and we’re made a new creation in Christ.
- a reminder, too, of the faith that’s necessary to live out our lives, once we come out of the water
The waters also remind us that sin is the destroyer of our spiritual health.
- keeps us from being the persons God desires us to be.
- can prompt us to doubt our faith and love in God.
Sometimes, we start even to think that God hasn’t heard our prayers or heard our pleas for relief. It’s worse when there’s a cure or a remedy for what ails us, and it’s just out of reach because of the amount of money it costs for the cure or because of the part of the world in which we live.
Like that blind man, we too may be suffering from things beyond our current control. In Canada, the website, www.statista.ca identifies the top five issues in healthcare as being
- lack of health care professionals
- non-uniform access to treatments
- inordinately long waiting times for procedures
- an aging population
- healthcare and government bureaucracy
Additionally, a study from Chapman University (www.digitalcommons.chapman.ca) additionally identifies…
- medical coverage and financing of long term facilities
- financing of expensive technologies and pharmaceuticals
- unbalanced distribution of health care professionals in the country
as injustices that need to be remedied, if we want to improve our healthcare in Canada.
Comparatively speaking though, it’s worse when we look at the global state of healthcare in developing nations.
According to the website www.80000hours.org, ten million people in poor nations die of illnesses each year that could have very easily been prevented and managed, including malaria, HIV, tuberculosis and diarrhea, malnutrition, and parasitic diseases.
- Malaria prevented by insecticide treated bed netting
- Tuberculosis prevented by antibiotics
- HIV prevented by antiviral therapies
- Diarrhea prevented by better sanitation and oral rehydration therapies
- Parasitic diseases prevented by a pill that costs 1.00 per year.
Most of these developing nations only have enough income to spend $100.00 per capita annually on healthcare. So it’s up to us in the developed nations to assist wherever and how ever we can.
Perhaps we can educate ourselves this week about what we can do to help those in poorer nations to receive the medical assistance we sometimes take for granted, as we seek to live justly, like God. As a first step, the website encourages us to give to the charity Give Well, as a way of contributing to the solution.
Next weekend, we’ll explore the justice dimensions of Standing for the Land, as we celebrate Solidarity Sunday.
But this weekend, we’ll continue our mass by celebrating the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick for anyone here, who is suffering from spiritual, emotional, mental or physical illness of any kind. When you approach, just say what kind of healing you are seeking. And then I will anoint your forehead and the palms of your hands.
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