Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Healthcare Mandate and the Agony in the Garden

Photo courtesy of
Like many Americans, I was very disappointed to hear today that the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the Healthcare Reform Bill crafted by the Obama administration. I had hoped that the court would find the bill unconstitutional because it contains a mandate that would force people of faith to violate their religious beliefs. I'm referring specifically to the Heath and Human Services (HHS) mandate contained in the bill that would force religious employers to provide health insurance that covers medications and services that violate the religious teachings of the Catholic Church and other religions.

As I thought about the decision, I wondered why God would allow this to happen. I wondered why He didn't touch the hearts of the Supreme Court justices so that the healthcare bill would be struck down.

As I was thinking about it, Christ's agony in the garden came to mind. After the last supper, Jesus and His disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane. While they were there, Jesus began to dread his impending suffering and death by crucifixion. He went off by Himself and prayed to God that He wouldn't have to go through with the crucifixion. He prayed "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Matthew 26:39) Jesus didn't want to go through the pain and suffering He was about to experience, but He was willing to go through it if it was God's will. He knew that if it was God's will that he suffer and die, He knew it was for a greater good, and He was willing to endure it.

The predicament that the Catholic Church finds itself in regarding the healthcare reform bill has similarities to Christ's experience in the Garden of Gethsemane. Just as Jesus didn't want to go through the pain and suffering of his crucifixion, the Catholic Church doesn't want to go through the pain and suffering that will happen if the HHS mandate is put into effect. If the HHS mandate goes into effect, the Catholic Church will have to take drastic measures, which might include shutting down Catholic schools and hospitals. If the Catholic Church has to shut down its schools and hospitals, it won't be able to provide the care and education that it gives to thousands of men, women, and children.

Just as Jesus wanted to be spared the pain and suffering of His crucifixion, the Catholic Church wanted the Supreme Court to strike down the healthcare bill so that it would be spared the pain and suffering involved in fighting the HHS mandate contained in the healthcare bill. If Jesus would have been spared the crucifixion, there would have been no resurrection. He had to go through the crucifixion for the greater good. On the surface, it seems like it would have been better for the Catholic Church if the Supreme Court would have struck down the healthcare bill. After thinking about it, I believe that it is actually better for the Catholic Church and the people of the United States that the healthcare bill wasn't struck down. Why? Because I believe that the imposition of the healthcare mandate is an incredible opportunity for the Catholic Church to make a very strong statement to the world. If the Catholic Church stands strong for religious freedom and opposes the healthcare mandate, it will be a strong Christian witness to the world that will hopefully result in the preservation of religious freedom for all. As with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Catholic Church must obediently accept the cup that has been handed to it, for the greater good of humanity.

1 comment:

  1. Found this quote on the Skyview blog (

    Cardinal James Francis Stafford gave a lecture in the fall of 2008 at the Catholic University of America. He warned his audience about the perils to come after president-elect Barak Obama won the bid for the President of the United States. He said, "On November 4, 2008, America suffered a cultural earthquake." Then he added: "For the next few years, Gethsemane will not be marginal. We will know that garden."


Comments on this blog are moderated. Please be respectful when posting a comment. Comments that contain profanity or racial slurs will not be posted.