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. Now it’s interesting to note that two weeks in a row now, we’ve seen paralysis in the Gospel.
Last week’s paralysis you might have missed the first time around, but it was there. Remember? The myrrh-bearing women, when they had received the word of the Resurrection of our Lord from the angel, became paralyzed, as it were, with fear. They did not immediately tell anyone of the great news they had been given. But then, just as quickly as their voices had been paralyzed, they were loosed, and their fear was overcome, on account of this same great news.
Interesting to note that the good news of the rising of Christ both caused fear and paralysis and then quickly relieved it. Such it often is when we are faced with fundamental truths, and grace, and holiness. We are sinful human beings, and it can be a frightening experience to be witness to the power of God’s grace, a power which extends even over life and death. But just as quickly as we can become afraid, we can be delivered by that same power of God’s grace.
So today, again we have paralysis in the Gospel, but of a different type. The man in today’s Gospel had suffered from his physical paralysis for thirty-eight years.
As we hear in the Gospel, every so often an angel would descend to a 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! Day in and day out: always the same, unsatisfactory outcome. And yet he perseveres.
How easily are we discouraged? And being discouraged, how easily will we turn away from things that we might even know are beneficial, and we turn away simply because they require our patience in the meantime?
Our Lord, coming upon this man, as the man if he wished to be healed. We might say to ourselves: Well, of course a sick man would want to be healed! Why is this even a question?
Our Lord wanted to make example of this man for us. This man, weak in body as he may have been, was strong, heroically strong even, in his patience.
After thirty-eight years of hoping every day and thirty-eight years of his hopes being dashed, his desire for healing was not diminished. It was not abandoned. He showed genuine courage and he held on to hope, even in defeat after defeat. We could a lesson from him.
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.
See, 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 becomes a fact.
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 the Pharisees did not ask him, “Who was it that made you well?” “Who is it that has healed you?” but rather, “Who was it that told thee to take up thy bed?” The pharisees do not look at the miracles worked. They only want to know who it is that “told you to do this on the sabbath?” Their concern wasn’t that a great miracle had been wrought by God, but rather that someone had transgressed their Law. This spirit – which seeks to place law in the place of God – is still alive and well. And it’s easy to get caught up in it.
After all this, our Lord finds the man again in the temple, and He tells 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 tells each and every one of us: 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.
Therefore, I have brought the healing power of the water to you. This water which is no longer simply stirred up by an angel, but rather stirred up by the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of life. 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.