How Long Have We Been Ill?

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. John. (5:1-15)

Do you want to be healed?” This is the simple question of our Lord God and savior Jesus Christ in today’s gospel text. “Do you want to be healed?”

As Christians we lose track of why it is that we come to the Church. Sometimes we come simply to socialize or because this is a religious habit. But the real reason why we must come to the Church is because we desire to be healed.

What sort of healing do we need? We require physical healing and more importantly we require mental, emotional and spiritual healing. We each carry many wounds and often these wounds exist due to our sinfulness. One of the primary tasks of the holy Church of God is to offer medicines to heal its people.

We are sick from anger. We are sick from impatience. We are sick from lust. We are sick from worry and anxiety. We are sick from egotism and pride. We are sick from the love of wealth. We are sick from materialism. We are sick from gluttony. We are sick from laziness. We are sick from the need for power. We are sick from busyness. We are sick from “entertainment.” We are sick for attention and for the need to be heard and respected. All of these things are affecting us as Christians. They are affecting us as human beings. They are walls between us and God.

The man in today’s gospel was sick with a physical illness for 38 long years. Sometimes we’ve carried our sins and spiritual infirmities for a long time. We carry these sins of jealousy, anger, lust, pride and the love of wealth. We’ve lacked faith in God and trusted ourselves instead. We all carry sickness as a result of our sins and unfortunately this is not as easy to heal as some physical illnesses might be. You can’t just take an antibiotic and be cured of anger. You can’t simply put a bandage on worry. You can’t take a pill to cure your problems with lust and the love of the flesh. So what now? How do we find healing from all of these ailments that are spiritual in nature?

It depends on how we answer the question “Do you want to be healed?” I suspect that if I ask you if you want to be cured of your anger, you will reply “Yes, I want to be cured.” But in the depths of your heart is that true? There is a difference between our words, and the actions that follow our words and that is what defines our relationship with Christ the master. God isn’t impressed by our outward appearance, He wants our hearts. We see that the Lord had great compassion upon the paralytic because the paralytic could not help himself and had not been offered help by others. In a manner of speaking, that is what God is looking for. God desires those who are hopeless and who have no other hope but Him. We have to learn to lean on God and pray to God with that kind of disposition.

Are we using our time in a way that demonstrates our true desire for healing? Our life is defined by what we do and how we use our time. How are we showing the Lord that we are genuinely waiting for healing? Are we filling our time only with work? Are we filling our time with to-do lists and plans for the future? Are we filling our time with social media, games and shows? Do these things help us with our desire to be healed? Do they bring us closer to Christ? We have plenty of things that take our time and attention, but how many of them are really profitable for us? Where is the reading of the word of God in our daily activities? When do we make time for prayer? Not short, routine prayers, but heartfelt prayers where we forget about time and space and simply sit in the presence of God? Do we run to the Church as to the body of Christ? Do we understand that all of Christ’s healing is offered here in the Church?

The paralytic waited for healing for 38 years and he even found his way to a miraculous pool that could offer such healing. What he could not imagine and did not expect was that the man standing next to him could offer him even greater healing, both physically and spiritually, in an instant. This didn’t happen once 2000 years ago in a remote part of the world. It happens daily. God heals physical infirmities and more importantly God heals the spiritual illnesses that divide man from his Creator and this type of transformation is apparent in the lives of the multitude of saints and holy men and women. Shall we stay paralyzed in our sins or shall we live as we were meant to live? It will come down to how we answer the question posed by the Master “Do you want to be healed?”

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