Sometimes you hear that religious formation is nice, but other things are too. It’s more important that kids take ballet lessons or learn to play soccer. There’s not time for everything.
Think about that. What’s one of the most important issues of our day? I think health care might be one of them. Where do children learn about health care, an issue that will affect them all their lives?
From parents? In a social studies class in school? From a talk show on the radio or television?
I think our own religious tradition has a lot to say on this matter. Look at Jesus. The gospel says clearly that he reached out to those in need, and taught his followers to do the same. It was one of the most important lessons he taught. He cured the sick and sent them home again. The gospels we hear every Sunday tell stories again and again of his concern for those in need.
We don’t have to go back to the times of the bible, however, to see his teaching. Look at the strong tradition our church in this country has in health care. There are over 2,000 Catholic health systems, facilities and related organizations in the United States now. Almost 13% of the hospitals in the United States are sponsored by the Catholic Church.
It was especially for the needs of the poor that so many of them were begun. Think of great Catholic figures who founded these hospitals and charitable works. Mother Cabrini, for example, an Italian immigrant woman who came to this country in 1889 and by the time of her death in 1917 had founded 67 institutions for the poor, among them a number of hospitals.
They say that when she went to visit a bishop looking for money in one of the many cities where she wanted to founded a hospital, the bishop said to her, “Mother, what am I going to tell the bankers.” She said to him, “You talk to the bankers, I’ll talk to God.”
I think our children should learn about health care from Jesus Christ, from Mother Cabrini, from Mother Teresa rather than from some loud-mouth on the radio. They need to learn about this more than they do ballet or soccer.