Anyone who grows up in the church has heard the stories. Jesus says "Be well!", and behold, someone is well. Jesus mixes up a poultice from some dirt and spit and applies it. He touches someone and says, "Your sins are forgiven," and they are forgiven. And that person is made well. Can see. Can speak. Can hear. Stops bleeding. Stops mutilating himself. Walks. Runs. Is not dead anymore, but living, and whole.
Only once are we told of a "stolen" healing. A woman who has been bleeding for 12 years, works her way through a crowd of people around him, and touches his robe, hoping that will be enough. And it is. She is healed. When he feels it happening, and asks, "Who touched me?", she comes forward in fear, and identifies herself. But he simply says "Your faith has healed you." It is nowhere recorded that he ever said, "You were not authorized."
Or, "No. Sorry. You've had enough relief from your sins, your pain, your grief. That's all you get this quarter."
Today, a dear dear friend, who suffers from chronic debilitating back pain needs to have a prescription fior pain meds refilled. She has injured her fragile back, and is in terrible pain. It should be simple. But it's not. She is told by a receptionist at the medical practice where she is a patient that, because of insurance and state rules, she can't get a refill without seeing the doctor, and the first available time is at the end of the month.
The month of August.
She asks to speak to her physician. "Doctor X is too busy to come to the phone." I am looking at her. She can hardly stand up straight. Pain is carving her face like granite.
I know this woman well, and you know what? She is a warrior. She pushes herself. She keeps going. She endures. She does not complain, or exaggerate, and she is not looking for a high. In fact, she doesn't particularly like how the drugs make her feel, except… they make the pain recede just enough.
She has health insurance, for which she pays a lot. The insurance company will cover a major and costly surgical procedure that has already been shown to be ineffective and sometimes dangerous in cases like hers, with a long recover time including physical therapy the insurance will not fully cover. My friend does not want this surgery. She just wants enough relief for the pain to be manageable. This is why one sees a pain management doctor in the first place, yes? But her medications are rationed by cost analysis, as are her allowable office visits. There is no thought given to her actual condition, to which I am witness. Nothing I experience in the lasting effects of my car accident comes close to what she deals with almost every day.
So. I think about this week's House vote (the 33rd such vote) to repeal the Affordable Care Act. I think about all the proposed cuts to or elimination of WIC, the Food Stamp program, Medicaid/Medicare. And about the man whom so many of our elected officials on both sides of the aisle claim to follow.
If we are so all-fired Christian, how do we dare to draw lines he never drew? I know things can be complicated, and that I am not aware of every problematic issue involved. But really. Once you develop the habit of calling yourself by his name, don't you also have to be going about the business of doing what he said to do?
Or are we just wearing lapel pins, and calling it a day?