Thursday, April 13, 2017

Easter, for Abundant Life

Lack of life purpose. Vices and escapism. Family separations, abortion. Economic, food and housing instability. Unemployment. Lack of economic resources, education, or training to get ahead. Social stratification, inequality, and social injustice. Epidemics and pandemics, inability to access social health systems. Old age unprotected by social security systems. Administrative, political, and governmental corruption. Poor quality of public services. War, violence, crime. Migration movements, displaced persons. Natural disasters. Just a few elements in a wide range of personal, family, and social evils and conflicts that represent, in short, a thousand forms of death or what has come to be called a CULTURE OF DEATH.

At this time of year, the Catholic Church celebrates the founding event of Christianity: The profession of faith by which the Crucified Savior transformed life for the first witnesses, men and women; a transformation through which these so-called first Christians proclaimed Him RESURRECTED and LIVING in their midst, and which started their personal and communal experience as children of God and brothers and sisters of one another.

For two thousand years, from those first witnesses of the public ministry of Jesus, from the conflicts that this ministry caused him, from his judicial and passionate trial and death on the cross, until today, Christians profess their faith in the Crucified Jesus of Nazareth living in every Christian and in every Christian community that lives the same life that Jesus himself lived and taught.

This profession of faith in the Resurrected Savior implies, at the same time, a belief that the definitive and ultimate message that God, the Father, delivered on the life of Jesus of Nazareth, acknowledged as His Son by the Christians, was one not of death and failure, but instead one of LIFE – indeed, ABUNDANT LIFE, (cf. Jn 10:10) eternal life, full life, happy life.

Christianity, in general, and every believer in Christ, in particular, has – as the foundation and main profession of faith – religious certainty and commitment that favors life over death in the thousand forms in which death is manifested. The entire life of Jesus of Nazareth, His Gospel, and His way of relating us to God (as children) and to others (as brothers and sisters), His life and His teachings are testament to Christianity as a proposal-protest in favor of life, abundant Life and, therefore, we could say, the programmatic-doctrinal foundation and lifestyle (personal and communal) that encourages what we can call a CULTURE OF LIFE (as opposed to the aforementioned "Culture of Death").

Our personal, family, and social lives pass by, it has already been said, in the midst of a thousand forms of death. Each one of us (personally and socially) suffers from shortcomings, longs for better living conditions, hopes for better days of greater justice and equity, days of abundant access to social opportunities, times of greater solidarity, freedom, and brotherhood. We all long for "the new heaven on the new earth." We would say that this is the hope that defines our present and that motivates our existence and our daily life.

THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST encourages this hope because it encourages the need for better education, housing, and health systems; greater levels of equity and justice, a greater search for the common good in the administration of justice and public funds. The Resurrection of Christ, also called, CHRISTIAN EASTER urges us all to commit ourselves to a better, kinder world, more humane, more fraternal, more solidary, more livable.

This CULTURE OF LIFE, based on the experience and profession of faith in a Creator God and in the abundant Life in the Resurrection of Christ, and by Him, with Him, and in Him, in our own resurrection must be demonstrated especially in the societies in which we mostly call ourselves "Christians," although our public experience of faith is celebrated in religious congregations with different denominations.

In other words, the manifestations of the Culture of Death are contradictory and scandalous in societies where – as in our case – we predominantly profess ourselves publicly to be "Christians," because these manifestations clash and contradict God's fundamental mission in Christ, His Resurrection, which is an abundance of life, against the abundance of death.

If we live our profession of faith as "Christians" in the midst of situations where life is precarious for some relative to the abundance of a few; if while millions live poorly or subsist while minorities swim in extravagance; if government decisions do not seek good for all and – with them – we are building persecution, inequality, disunity, divisions, discrimination, and intolerance; if – in the end – we still fail to build a more humane world for the fraternal and just, then our religious experience is false because it is hypocritical, because we construct personal and social environments that contradict the beliefs, principles, and values of the Gospel of the Life of Jesus Christ.

Christian Easter, for the Resurrection of Christ, is a time for us to examine our personal and family commitments and our fruits as an American society. Time for us to ask ourselves if the fruits and values with which we are designing the construction of our society - populated mostly by "Christians" – correspond coherently and authentically to the mission and culture of the ABUNDANT LIFE for all that emanates from the Gospel.

I conclude here with an invitation: That our professions of "Christian" faith and our "Christian" worship finally manifest themselves in "Christian" social institutions, structures, and relationships in favor of LIFE (in all its expressions) and against Death (in its many forms). HAPPY EASTER!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Health Care Reform Must Become a Strictly Non-partisan Objective

The American public has been treated to a sad spectacle in recent weeks. With the fate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) hanging in the balance, the country’s political leadership—from the President on down—engaged in an off-putting war of words and partisan sniping. All the players clung to unbending ideological positions, exhibiting a stubborn determination to seek political advantage.

Utterly lost in this first chapter of the battle for healthcare reform under the new Administration—the first of many political skirmishes, undoubtedly—was the fate of millions of poor or relatively poor Americans. Their access to quality healthcare depends on what their representatives in the nation’s capital manage to come up with. Their well-being, not politics, should take center-stage. The duty and high calling to serve the common good—as inscribed in the country’s founding documents—should guide legislators on both sides of the aisle.

Sadly, things are off to a very poor start; and with the battle for tax reform looming large as the next showdown in Washington, D.C., it is to be feared that genuine healthcare reform may get lost in the shuffle. As a result, the ACA, for better and for worse, will hobble onward for the foreseeable future—continuing to protect some, while raising the financial burden for many others as premiums rise and the pool of insurers shrinks, not to mention a host of other unresolved, compounding difficulties dogging the program.

On a practical note, it must be remembered that the ACA was not solely the invention of the Obama Administration. The pursuit of providing healthcare to the legions of uninsured Americans dates back some 30 years, to the efforts, however imperfect, of the First Lady during the first Clinton Administration. The simplistic, jingoistic slogan “repeal and replace” badly fails to do justice to the complexities involved. Still more seriously, such an approach overlooks the urgent needs of the ultimate beneficiary of any reform: vulnerable and needy Americans of all backgrounds.

It is clear that the ACA bears improvement. All stakeholders—legislators, insurers, drug companies, medical device makers, health care providers., as well as the American people at large—are in agreement that there is a need for a certain repair and degree of transformation. However, common sense and a focus on the common good should guide the necessary process—not self-serving partisan politics that play fast and loose with the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of untold numbers of ordinary Americans.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Medical Mission in Dominican Republic

The Dominican Medical-Dental Society once again organized a medical mission in Dominican Republic. This year, 120 doctors assisted, including 30 dentists, 40 surgeons, 20 optometrists, 30 pediatricians.  The medical mission took place on the outskirts of the city in a neighborhood called “La Nueva Barquita”, recently inaugurated with new homes for low income families. More than 4000 surgeries took place during this mission. Over 6000 people approached the mission to request medical assistance.

Click here to view photos.