M*A*S*H and the Call of Matthew

MASH cast

Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. (Matthew 9:12)

These words of our Lord remind us of our Holy Father. Pope Francis has said that the Church is a field hospital. Which is cool, because then I can be Hawkeye Pierce.

I desire mercy, not sacrifice. (Matthew 9:13/Hosea 6:6) The Lord also said that the true sacrifice He desires is: obedience. Not burnt animals, but obedience (I Samuel 15:22).

We find ourselves in the middle of a “war:” sin in this world. We suffer because we ourselves sin; we suffer because our neighbors sin; we suffer because our ancestors sinned. We suffer because, instead of obeying the kind will of our heavenly Father, we have filled history with many nonsensical undertakings. Not just the Korean War–nonsensical as it may, or may not, have been.

Disobeying God wounds souls. And those wounds need emergency care. They need the care of rough-and-ready medical personnel with generous hearts, like Col. Blake or Trapper. On M*A*S*H, they just listened for choppers and then got to work.

The war is real. The medicine is also real. In fact, in the field hospital of the Divine Physician, it’s open-Heart surgery.  The surgeon’s Heart is open.

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer’s art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

(From T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets)

The sin of the world makes our fever charts enigmatic. That is: we fail to make sense, we sinners. Someone has to resolve this unfathomable mystery, the mystery of human confusion. When we find a way to make sense, we’ll be healed.

Christ can make sense of us. Christ crucified, the surgeon with wounded hands. He treats our disobedience with the merciful medicine of His own perfect obedience.

Radar. Margaret. Klinger… Ultimately they all grew cynical about the war effort. But not in this field hospital. We may have personality quirks worthy of situation comedy. But we’re no cynics. Because the chief surgeon in this medical camp is the infinitely merciful, perfectly obedient Son of God.


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