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Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed him mercy." And Jesus said to him, "You go, and do likewise."(ESV)

Health Care

Johann Walter, Kantor

24 April 2014

Good health is a great blessing. Those who live where there is high quality health care enjoy a divine gift that has few equals among earthly blessings. It is no wonder that such a furor has erupted about the so-called health care plan, ironically called the Affordable Care Act. Who wants health care run like the postal service? There is no time during our earthly lives when our health is unimportant to us. We always seem to be recovering from something, even if it sore muscles after a good work out. When we were children we regularly visited the pediatrician's office. As we grow older our bodies start their long, inevitable slide into the grave. Health maintenance is a permanent situation, even when we don't actually recognize it.


We also find ourselves in spiritual health maintenance mode until we die. Yes, of course, we have all the blessings of forgiveness of sins, life and salvation as promised in baptism and guaranteed to us in eternity. But we haven't arrived yet. In the meantime, we are all the patients of the Physician of the soul, who continues to work upon us maintaining our spiritual health (Lk 5:31). We live in the situation of the man rescued by the Samaritan (Lk 10:30-37), until we draw our last ragged breath. The Lord continues to offer the salve of Word and sacraments to the wounds of our sin, weakness, and suffering. He attends at our bedside with all the power of life. He applies oil and wine to the wounds of the heart. How wonderful that we have a doctor who comes to our sick bed and grants healing now, and promises a new life at the end. We have a doctor who not only heals but is himself the medicine, transfusing us with His precious blood.


There is every reason to remain vigilant about our health and humble about our present condition. We have every reason to confess with the Apostle the battle that is waging within us against our own wickedness; the cancer of death (Rm 7:23-25). We feel the power of the divine judgment that is the wage of sin. That weighs upon us as a spiritual entropy. Only in our confession of weakness and inability is there a truthful description of our situation. We must confess daily that we have not arrived, and that we still require the personal care of our physician, Christ the Savior. He comes to us in the church which until it is translated into the purely heavenly kingdom is the wayfarers shelter in which oil and wine are poured over the wounds we feel and experience. There is nothing more practical or beneficial to us in all the world, than to attend where the Lord continues His care for our spiritual health by providing the true medicine of immortality from His altar and the words of eternal life in the Word of God delivered by the physicians' assistants of the ministry. Now this is what I call health care.


Augustine of Hippo


"There are men who are unthankful for grace, attributing much to poor and disabled nature. True it is, when man was created he received great power of free will; but he lost it by sin. He fell into death, became infirm, was left in the way by the robbers half dead. The Samaritan passing by lifted him up on his own beast (Lk 10:30-37) he is still being brought to the inn. Why is he lifted up? He is still in process of curing. 'But,' someone may say, 'it is enough for me that I received remission of all sins in baptism.' Because iniquity was blotted out, was therefore infirmity brought to an end? Such a person says, 'I received remission of all sins.' It is quite true. All sins were blotted out in the sacrament of baptism, all entirely, of words, deeds, thoughts, all were blotted out. But this is the 'oil and wine' which was poured in by the way.


"Beloved brothers, remember that man who was wounded by the robbers, and left half dead by the way, how he was strengthened, by receiving oil and wine for his wounds. His error indeed was already pardoned, and yet his weakness was in the process of being healed in the inn. The inn, if you recognize it, is the church. In the present time it is an inn, because in life we are passing by. It will be a home, from which we shall never leave, when we shall have gotten perfect health unto the kingdom of heaven. Meanwhile we gladly receive our treatment in the inn, and weak as we still are we do not boast of sound health, lest through our pride we gain nothing else, but never for all our treatment be cured."


Augustine, Sermon on John 6

Dear Jesus, Physician of body and soul, continue to apply the salve of your mercy to my broken life. Keep me from pride and self righteousness. Help me to submit eagerly to your comforting care, that I might be revived by You daily until I come into possession of the life that cannot die. Preserve Your church among us until the time of perfect health is brought to us by You. Amen.


For Ellen Muth, that the Physician of body and soul would attend her and bring to her His healing


For those who despise the gift of baptism by turning it into a human work, that the Lord would draw them to Himself through His gospel preaching


For all seminarians, that the Holy Spirit would accompany their studies so that they might believe and confess what the Lord has taught that we might all be taught of God


For those who have been harassed by preachers who do not proclaim the saving salve of God's Word, that they would find shepherds who care for the sheep

Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias Resurrection (1515)

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