Today the Orthodox Church commemorates the memory of the Saints Cosmas and Damian, the Unmercenaries. Trained in medicine, they treated people FREE OF CHARGE in the NAME OF CHRIST. In today’s political environment it has become almost second nature to hear someone speak about the need for universal health care. For sure the cost of healthcare in our nation has gotten out of control with premiums so high that many families hold down a second job JUST for health insurance, and if the insurance is used for anything but the slightest routine procedure, our premiums increase.
Within the breadth of the debate I hear about access for the poor to health care through universal health care, but what if there were another way? What if there were a Christian way? Imagine how we could grant access to the poor if more trained professionals provided their services for free out of Christian love? Imagine how many of our brothers and sisters could receive routine check-ups if UNmercenary doctors and nurses followed the path of Saints Cosmas and Damian? The UNmercenary Saints (there have been many in history) didn’t receive pay from OTHERS to treat the sick. They provided for themselves often from family fortunes.
I DON’T write this today to suggest that doctors and nurses shouldn’t be compensated for their services. Christ reminds us that a “worker is worthy of his food.” (Matthew 10.10) I only remind you of the rich Christian history of UNmercenary saints who treated the sick without compensation. The world has plenty of doctors and nurses; the world needs more UNmercenaries
In today’s Gospel lesson, we see what happened to the rich man who chose to keep his wealth for himself rather than use it to help others. He was suffering in hell after death. It was the poor man Lazarus who was being comforted by God. “But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.” (Luke 16.25)
When we hoard our blessings and keep them for ourselves, we suffer, but when we use our blessings to help others like Saints Cosmas and Damian, the poor are comforted and we are blessed and remembered as holy. Let’s learn to use our gifts to help others. Let’s learn how to be unmercenaries.