Waiting for the One who Brings Life Abundantly
December 13, 2016
The season of Advent is full of hope and anticipation for the birth of Jesus, who “came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Throughout the Gospels, Jesus models this abundant life by healing the sick with boundless compassion, especially for those experiencing poverty or exclusion.
Jesus’s healing example also calls me to imagine what our country and healthcare system could be if we took this message of abundant life and boundless compassion to heart. For our society to have life and have it abundantly, health must be a universal right, not a consumer good or a privilege for those who can afford it. Financial circumstances, zip code, race, ethnicity, or other factors should not influence access to life-saving medical care. A life-affirming healthcare system would provide universal coverage for the common good, with special concern for people who are vulnerable.
In this season of hope, it must be noted that our country has been moving closer to this vision. Never before have so many Americans had health insurance; in 2015 we achieved the lowest uninsured rate and the lowest child uninsured rate in history. Programs such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicare, and the Affordable Care Act have created a preferential option for those who would be left without care in a purely market-oriented health system. My family and I have known the fear of rising medical expenses and have benefited from these policies that lead to a healthier society.
As Jesus announced his arrival to John the Baptist saying: “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear” (Matthew 11:5), maybe our progress in living out His teachings should be measured by whether those experiencing poverty or sickness have access to care as a fundamental right. This is the nation I hope for, and the one we are pushing for at NETWORK: one that extends Jesus’s healing touch to all.
So while I wait in hope for the humble birth of the one who came that we might have abundant life, I remain cognizant of the injustices that keep those born into poverty today from enjoying healthy, abundant life. At this crucial time, I remain hopeful that we will resist the path of putting profit over people and choose Jesus’s path of abundant life.