Dr. Yolanda Pierce continues her six-week series of Lenten Devotionals. Devotionals can be found on KineticsLive.com every Wednesday beginning with Ash Wednesday
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by Yolanda Pierce, PhD
Woman, behold your son…
Disciple, behold your mother…
The Lenten season is almost at an end and I am left to reflect on the final moments Jesus experienced before his state-sanctioned execution. While suffering on the cross, Jesus relinquishes his filial duty to his mother. As the eldest son, her continued well-being was his responsibility. Into the hands of one of his disciples, Jesus commits the care of the one he dearly loved. Not even the approach of death could diminish the love and respect he had for the one who had ushered him into the world.
But this brief exchange reveals something deeper. It establishes a kinship bond between Mary, Mother of Jesus, and the disciple to whom Jesus entrusted her care. It was not, as patriarchal culture would have demanded, the transfer of a woman from one male authority to another male authority. This move was a radical alteration of familial relationships. No longer would the ties of flesh and blood be the only determinants for participation in a divine lineage. Mother and brother, sister and father, are no longer simply terms of biological destiny, but of right relationship.
What would health care reform look like if we were designing it for our own mothers? How would we change the criminal justice system if our own biological brothers were continually caught up within its grasp? That prisoner, freshly released from jail with no job skills, the victim of prison rape, functionally illiterate, with no place to go and no moral standing in the community – behold, your son! That woman, sleeping under the protection of the restaurant awning, with all her earthly belongings stuffed into a shopping bag, feet swollen from untreated diabetes, heart broken from abuse and neglect, hair matted and spirit cast down – behold, your mother!
Our nation is at this very moment considering one of the most significant pieces of legislation of our modern era – the Affordable Care Act, an attempt to insure some of the 49.9 million Americans who do not have health insurance. It is an imperfect plan for a flawed system, but it sheds light on a national crisis. There are too many sons and daughters, too many mothers and fathers who don’t have access to the most basic of health care until there is a catastrophic medical event.
As this Lenten season approaches Holy Week, may we reflect on all that is necessary for people to be whole, healthy, and holy. Hungry bellies must be filled and broken bodies must be repaired, because this is also the work of salvation. Caring for the physical, tangible, and medical needs of our neighbors is the work of love and justice. Even from Calvary, Jesus reminds us that we need each other; that the well-being of one person is intimately connected with the well-being of another, someone who is not necessarily related by blood. May we realize that our health as a nation is intertwined with the access to health care of the most fragile and vulnerable among us.