The Non-Politics of Healthcare

Yesterday was the feast of St. Luke, the person to whom the Christian tradition has credited with authorship of one of the four gospels. He is also believed to have been a physician himself and is the patron saint of those in healthcare. For this reason, October 18 is commonly a day when a mass is celebrated in honor of all who labor in the ministry of healing, from nurses, technicians, physicians, facility and cafeteria workers, secretaries, pharmacists, and even healthcare insurers.

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Amid all of the rhetoric around the healthcare debate, the honest women and men who seek to ensure high quality care for the sick and needy before them may be forgotten. A recent conversation with a hospital chief executive, who is also a physician, reminded me of a basic truth for those who work in the healthcare profession: No sick person is turned away. Certainly, no system, company, or non-profit agency seeks to lose money and will work assiduously to be as financially strong and viable as possible; nevertheless, the bottom line is not always more important than those who may be left at the bottom of society's economic ladder.

In the Catholic tradition, healing is a sacrament. While it is administered ritually by a priest, we know that healing comes to us in countless forms. From competent medical professionals to forgiving friends and loved ones, when we experience healing, we are encountering the grace of God. And, we remain grateful for those healthcare professionals who mediate this grace for us. Let us remember them in prayer, for the good work they provide and for the commitment to a most noble profession.

St. Luke, pray for us.