Healthcare and healing

It is tempting, as many have observed, to link this Sunday’s readings to this Thursday’s Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

Politics from the pulpit are tricky. The need to be prophetic and the need to be pastoral at the same time means that we are concerned to know how afflicted the comfortable will be, and how comforted those with a pre-existing affliction, if we do go there. I’m not preaching this Sunday, but still …

Both of the characters seeking healing in this gospel story are desperate. Jairus comes seeking help for his dying daughter; Jesus’ response is interrupted by the stealth healing of the woman with the flow of blood. One is close to the loss of a child; one is close to the loss of her last dollar, her last hope. It is not costless to Jesus to help them. He feels the healing energy that the woman draws from him (without permission, without prescription, without proper paperwork). Once again, yet again, I hear that word from Isaiah quoted by Matthew: “He took up our infirmities, and carried our diseases,” or, “he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows,” – and envision the weight, the sickness that Jesus must fight in body and soul on behalf of everyone he heals. No, it is not effortless, or without cost or consequence.

How is his question – “Who touched me?” – voiced? Is he angry at this stealth helping of herself to healing? Frightened at the leak? Curious, or delighted by her audacity? At any rate, he lets her go with her free gift gotten by any means she could find.

By which time the girl is, at least as good as, dead. It will take so much more now (as so often when conditions are neglected, treatment postponed for lack of resource), and Jesus has already given so much. Will he draw the line? After all, how much can he hope to give before the well runs dry?

We never find out how much. Jesus never tells how much it costs him to heal. He comes close, in a few weeks’ time, when he snaps out of his exhaustion at another woman, another parent with another sick little girl. But for now, he will not sacrifice the child to the woman. He does not hold back. He does what it takes to extend his healing as far as he can.

Yes, it is tempting to link our prayers, our preaching to our politics. What will you preach or pray this Sunday?

About Rosalind C Hughes

Rosalind C Hughes is a priest and author living near the shores of Lake Erie. After growing up in England and Wales, and living briefly in Singapore, she is now settled in Ohio. She serves an Episcopal church just outside Cleveland. Rosalind is the author of A Family Like Mine: Biblical Stories of Love, Loss, and Longing , and Whom Shall I Fear? Urgent Questions for Christians in an Age of Violence, both from Upper Room Books. She loves the lake, misses the ocean, and is finally coming to terms with snow.
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4 Responses to Healthcare and healing

  1. Ken Ranos says:

    I’m preaching on how healing is about more than release from disease or injury–it is a part of restoring wholeness, literally, “salvation”. I noticed for the first time that when Jesus confronts the woman who touched him, he tells her FIRST that her faith has made her well–THEN he tells her that her disease is healed. Her wholeness comes first, then her healing. That suggests to me that these stories have more to them than simple cures.

    • Yes. Jesus was a very holistic healer 🙂 (and remember the man whose sins were forgiven – and was told to pick up his bed and walk almost as a “take that!” to the naysayers!)

  2. I like this, a challenge instead of a rant. I appreciate this call to think about the health care issue as opposed to just blind reaction.

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