Monday, March 03, 2008

One of the most impressive reports we heard in church on Sunday was from the Honduras Medical Team's most recent mission trip. How wonderful that so many volunteers from our small parish were willing to contribute their time, talent and resources to caring for those who needed medical, dental, and vision care. A vet was also with them who cared for several animals, primarily cows and horses. It made me wish I had donated more than I had for their mission of mercy.

Imagine my shock last night when I saw on 60 Minutes a very similar story of volunteers caring for those who could not afford the medical care they needed. But this was not in some poor, primitive country like Honduras. It was in Tennessee. The sponsoring entity was RAM (Remote Area Medical), not the Episcopal Church, and the "Remote Area" they were serving? Knoxville. Stan Brock, the man who started RAM, is an Englishman who spent his young-adult years in the jungle wilds and yawning savannas of what was once British Guiana in South America.

How can we, as the richest nation on the face of the earth, possibly justify this? It reminds me of the Good Samaritan story where the religious Jewish people passed by the injured man, refusing to help for various reasons, but the foreigner, the Samaritan, comes along and lends life-saving assistance to the Jewish man.

We may have blind spots. We've got lots of excuses - they're deadbeats, they're addicts, they're illegal aliens, etc. Watch the video. Most of these people were the working poor with no or inadequate health insurance, the ones who had transportation to get to the free clinic. For every one of them, there was probably a poorer person who had no way to get to the clinic.

Jesus had strong words for those of us who do not think the sick and poor among us deserve our help: For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me... whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me... depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

I am not discrediting the work of our medical mission team. Thank God for them and their work. I'm just saying that we as Americans need to get our priorities straight. To donate to RAM, click here.

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.
(copied BCP)

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