The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. John 5:1-15
Today we celebrate the healing of the paralytic near the pool called Bethsaida. We celebrate this because according to our sources of Holy Tradition, this healing actually occurred during the holy fifty days between the Jewish Passover and Pentecost.
The Lord sees the man who has been sick for 38 years and He asks him only one question “Do you want to be healed?” It is not a difficult question but surprisingly the sick man doesn’t answer the question. Instead of answering “YES, I WANT TO BE HEALED!” He begins to offer up an explanation or make excuses for why it is that he is not well. He tells the Lord that his problem is that he doesn’t have anyone to help into the water at the right time. But again this misses the point. The Lord already knows the issues that face this man, in a manner of speaking, the Lord is not concerned with the obstacles and the circumstances as much as He is interested in the human being and their total healing.
The Lord offers this man true healing by offering healing that goes past the physical ailments. Yes it includes the physical healing but for the Lord, this is never the most important aspect. What is important is that He restores the man fully. The Lord offers the fullness of healing, both in soul and in body. The healing extends past the physical limbs and into the heart and the mind of the individual.
Some of us have physical ailments, that is a part of the natural, fallen world of which we are a part. The Lord offers us healing of many of these illnesses through the life of the Church and specifically through the sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Unction of the sick. But what about the rest of us who look and generally feel “healthy”?
We have physical health but in the eyes of the Lord we are definitely sick. The pool called Bethsaida was surrounded by many who were invalids, blind, lame, and paralyzed. Yet we would do well to remember that we are in fact those who are invalids. We are those who are blind to the poor and their needs. We are blind to the ways that God has blessed us and continually works in our lives. We are lame. Instead of working on behalf of God and His Church with vigor and strength, we usually just limp along from day to day. We are paralyzed. We are paralyzed by our own sins and shortcomings. We can find it difficult to make progress in our walk with Christ. We are static when the Holy Spirit would like to make us dynamic. We are full of sin when the Lord would like to make us saints. Instead of our spiritual paralysis being a part of our past, a part of our story before Christ, it is still a part of our present. Perhaps it will also be a part of our future if we do not recognize the proper way to address the problem.
The good news is that you are here now. This place is similar to the pool at Bethsaida. This is a place of angels and a place of healing. But unlike the selective healing at the pool, this is healing offered to everyone. Every man, woman and child who enters is offered spiritual healing and often physical healing as well. Christ our Lord sees our struggles, He recognizes our infirmity, He knows our weaknesses, He sees our pain. He asks each and every one of us the same question “Do you want to be healed?” The proper way to address our spiritual sicknesses is to answer boldly “Yes Lord, I want to be healed.” We have to get past all the causes of our illnesses and we have to recognize the truth; that Christ is the only source of our healing. This is not something that we do once or twice in our lives. This has to be an inner disposition that guides the way we think and pray to God daily.
In this healing of a man who was paralyzed for 38 years we see a situation that was completely hopeless and yet it was touched and transformed by the grace of God. The man was alive, but he had not truly lived for a very long time.
He was for all intents and purposes, a man without life. When we are paralyzed in our sinfulness, when we are in active rebellion against God, we are similar. We appear alive, but inside we are full of corruption, weakness and even death. The Lord speaks of those who are “whitewashed tombs.” You and I have no power over this situation. Yet we have a redeemer who was dead and now lives! We have a healer who was buried and now is raised. We have a king who was slain and yet has conquered death itself! He who is full of life and power nows offers this life and power to all of His beloved.
Christ is beyond our obstacles, Christ is our source of healing. Come to Him daily and drink at the pool of His mercy and you will find real healing. The One who rose from the dead is faithful to raise us from our sickness to share in the glory of His resurrection. He shares His victory with us. So if you have been buried by your sins and shortcomings, take courage! You can still be healed, you can still be redeemed, you can still be saved, you can still be resurrected! Because we are His and He is our healing, He is our redemption, He is our salvation and He is our resurrection! Christ is Risen! Indeed He is risen!