Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.
This prophecy is fulfilled in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, one of whose acts of healing is recounted in today’s Gospel (Mark 7:31-37).
We as followers of Christ must follow in his footsteps, of course. This is why Catholics have been so involved in healthcare over the millennia, caring for the sick and also caring for the poor.
That is why it is important for Catholics to be involved in the current public policy debates about healthcare.
It is easy to want to stay out of these debates, because the animosity is often so intense and the subject matter is mind-bogglingly complex, but as followers of Christ the healer, we must be involved.
One reason why it is important for us to be involved in these discussions is that there are elements in society and in government that want to force Catholic institutions to facilitate and/or fund intrinsically evil acts such as abortion.
We must not be satisfied by assurances that individuals will not be forced to perform acts against their consciences.
These assurances would not keep the government from forcing Catholic hospitals and other institutions (and thus the religious orders and dioceses to which they belong) to facilitate intrinsically evil acts such as abortion.
Neither would these assurances keep the government from setting up a system that would force insurance plans (including yours, mine, and those funded by Catholic institutions) to pay for intrinsically evil acts such as abortion.
Conscience protection must be collective, not just individual.
As to other questions in the current debate about healthcare, as long as true moral imperatives are protected and maintained, many of them are matters of prudential judgment.
Is healthcare best left in the hands of big government or of big business and non-governmental organizations? Or perhaps a combination of both?
Again, as long as true moral imperatives are protected and maintained, these are matters of prudential judgment – and we as Christians need to be involved in society’s making of these prudential judgments.
But whether one espouses a “single payer” system or a “free market system” or some kind of hybrid system (either the same as or different from the one that exists in the United States today), we as Christians need to remember not only our collective but also our individual responsibilities to follow in the healing footsteps of Christ.
Caring for the sick and for the poor cannot be simply a matter that we delegate to the government or to our favorite charities.
You and I need to be involved personally in caring for the sick and in caring for the poor.
Thus we may be better recognized as followers of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.