My dear friends in our Lord: Christ is risen!
This Sunday, we hear in the Gospel of our Lord healing the paralytic man at the pool near the Probatica Gate at the Temple in Jerusalem. This man had suffered from his paralysis already for thirty-eight years.
As we hear in the Gospel, every so often an angel would descend to this pool of water at the Temple, and would stir up the waters. The first person to enter the waters after they had been stirred up would be healed of their bodily infirmities. And this man had waited and waited, hoping just once to be able to enter the pool after it had been stirred up, so that he could be freed from his illness. But he was always unable to be the first, being prevented by those stronger and faster than he was, and having no friends to help him.
And for all this, he never gave up, he never lost hope.
Think about that, my friends. Thirty-eight years! Always the same, unsatisfactory outcome. And yet he perseveres.
How easily are we discouraged? And being discouraged, how easily will we turn away from those endeavours that we might even know are beneficial, and we turn away simply because they require our patience in the meantime?
To give us an example, our Lord asked the man how long he had suffered, so that it might be known to all. Likewise our Lord asks if the man wishes to be healed. This is to give testimony to the man’s patience and his resolve.
We might say to ourselves: Well, of course a sick man would want to be healed! Why is this even a question?
Again: Thirty-eight years this man had been waiting, frustrated at every turn. Remember the fable of the fox and the grapes? How often, if we are frustrated in acquiring what we want will we turn around and then declare that we never really wanted it to begin with? Instead of patience, we resort to self-delusion.
But this man in today’s Gospel was resolute, heroic even in his patience. After thirty-eight years of hope and thirty-eight years of hopes being dashed, his desire for healing was not diminished. It was not abandoned. He took the route of genuine courage and held on to hope in the face of defeat after defeat. We could do well to learn a lesson from him.
Giving this testimony to our Lord, our Lord then said: Arise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole: and he took up his bed, and walked.
With the voice of the Lord alone was the man healed. This is the power of the word of the eternal Word Himself! Straightway the command became a fact. The paralytic man received strength from the word, and immediately he got up and walked.
Then as we hear, the Pharisees crowded around the paralytic, and they say to him: It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for thee to take up thy bed.
And the paralytic man answers them: He that made me whole, he said to me, Take up thy bed, and walk. They asked him therefore: Who is that man who said to thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? But he who was healed, knew not who it was; for Jesus went aside from the multitude standing in the place.
Note that they did not ask him, “Who was it that made thee well?” “Who is it that has healed thee?” but rather, “Who was it that told thee to take up thy bed?” They do not look at the miracles worked. They only want to know who it is that “told you to do this on the sabbath,” regarding it as a violation of the sabbath. Let those who have understanding take that to heart, for this pharasaical spirit remains alive and well today.
Afterwards, our Lord found the man again in the temple, and told him: Behold thou art made whole: sin no more, lest some worse thing happen to thee.
Our Lord speaks also the same to us today. Our Lord meets us in the Temple of God, which is the Church, and charges each and every one of us saying: Yesterday in sin you were confined to your bed, you were paralyzed, and you had no one to put you into the pool when the water was stirred up.
I therefore have brought the healing power of the water to you. This regenerative water which is no longer stirred up by an angel but rather by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life.
And I say to you: Arise; take up your bed, and walk. Walk with the strength which I communicate to you. Walk in grace. Walk in sanctification. Walk in prudence and in charity. Walk in patience and undying hope. For behold, you are made whole: sin no more.