Recently I spent several hours in a pediatric Emergency Department waiting room, seeking care for my son. Many things struck me as I reflected on that evening, but one thing stayed with me: the crowded waiting room included many young families who were poor. Their children were sick. But the phenomenon was like what I witnessed 25 years ago, while working for the University of California. Our medical center was the safety net for Orange County, CA. Many folks without access to care or benefits would come to the ED for all their care (urgent and non-urgent). We held many a conference with brilliant health care leaders, struggling to figure out how to offer good, accessible care in neighborhoods rather than in the Emergency Department. This would mean better health outcomes for patients and families and be less expensive.
And yet here we are 25 years later with the same phenomenon. Clearly the “machine” is paying off for enough in power to prevent meaningful change from happening.
St. Clare of Assisi, and those in her order (now called The Poor Clares), dedicated their lives to serving the poor and caring for the sick and marginalized. They did it not because it was profitable or easy, but because it was the loving and compassionate thing to do.
O God, whose blessed Son became poor that we through his poverty may be rich: Deliver us from an inordinate love of this world, that we, inspired by the devotion of your servant Clare, may serve you with singleness of heart and may love and care for all our neighbors as ourselves, regardless of their station in life, through Christ our Lord and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.