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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Miracle, Interrupted

Agnus Day
First of all, let me just say how thrilled beyond the telling that I am that the Supreme Court upheld the Health Care Reform Act.

Is it perfect? Far from it. Do we have a long way to achieve Universal Health Care? Absolutely. Is this an important first step? Undoubtedly.

I sincerely wish that the Medicaid expansion had been upheld. Hundreds of thousands of people are still going to be without health care. I thought the 100% coverage from the feds for 3 years, followed by 90% cost-shifting was a good deal. I simply can not believe the stories from governors about "we simply can't afford it". I think it's a matter of priorities.

It is not an understatement to say that it thrills me to know that Supreme Court Justice Roberts left partisan politics at the door and focused on the constitutionality of the law. That's their job. That's what they are supposed to do. Thank God, they did it.

I'm also delighted that children will be able to be covered until they are 26 years old, that no one can be discriminated against for preexisting conditions and that everyone must be covered by health care by 2014 or be subject to a fine.

Okay, tax.  Better that then to have someone without insurance treated at a hospital and the cost of that person's care be absorbed into higher rates and taxes anyway. It puts the responsibility back on the individual and, where applicable, their employers. In my estimation, that's exactly where it belongs.  I don't understand why Republicans aren't thrilled about that.

This Sunday's gospel fortuitously features not one but two healing stories in a classic "Markan Sandwich". 

It's also sometimes called "Miracle, Interrupted". 

The scene opens as Jesus and the disciples step off the boat and are suddenly greeted by Jarius, the leader of the local Synagogue, who tells them that his daughter is nigh unto death and asks that Jesus heal her, please.

On his way to make a "house call," Jesus tries to make his way through the large crowd which is pressing on him from all sides. As he does, a woman who "had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years" approaches Jesus. "She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse."

Unbeknownst to Jesus, she touches the hem of his garment and is instantly healed. We are told that Jesus "felt the power had gone forth from him" and immediately wanted to know who touched him.

Interesting. No one knew. Not Jesus. Not the disciples. Just the woman who had been healed who finally came forth and "confessed" that it was she who had touched him. Jesus immediately pronounced her healed and sent her on her way in peace.

We come, then, to the second layer of the "Markan Sandwich" - the miracle that had been interrupted - with the arrival of Jesus at the home of the daughter of Jarius. Everyone thinks the child has already died and they laugh at Jesus when he tells them that the child is not dead but asleep (meaning, I'm sure, that she was in a coma)

Jesus ushers everyone out of the child's room - including her parents - and with the words  "Talitha cum," (which means, "Little girl, get up!"), the child is healed and begins to walk.

It is folly to try and impose the gospel template on our modern American reality.  Even with the "miracle of modern medical science," the healing power of Jesus looks like a magician's trick - like David Copperfield flying on stage or a 'mentalist' bending a spoon with a magical glare.

Universal Health Care is not magical.  I think it's a gospel value. It can happen when we establish it as a goal - placed above profit margins and corporate greed.

The fact that we have this first step - reforming the way we have traditionally provided health care insurance - will be no less than miraculous to hundreds of thousands of people.

And yet, there are hundreds of thousands more who remain in need.

Perhaps this part of the evolution of Universal Health Care will prove to be a "miracle, interrupted," as well.  Perhaps, in another decade - with continued progress, changing hearts and minds - we'll get there.

If ever I needed to hear Jesus say, "Do not fear, only believe," it's now.


Anonymous said...

"I don't understand why the Republicans don't like it?" I don't understand why Democrats don't like it. Why are the Native tribes and hundreds of unions getting exemptions from the law? Businesses asking for exemptions are no surprise. I think it's a lot like TEC's problematic health insurance plan, it sounded good on paper, but enacting it is causing problems nobody thought of before and the solution for one group causes more pain for others.

It's also a bit like the mess in the CoE about women bishops, one group says, "Yes, the law is ugly, but pass it anyway and fix it later" the other side says, "No, there're too many compromises, start over."

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Chris H - It's all about change, isn't it, and our resistance to it? We go at it slowly, slowly, slowly,kicking and screaming the whole way.