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  • Fr. Athanasius Oweis

Do You Want to be Healed? - Sunday of the Paralytic, May 15th 2022

JOHN 5:1-15

At that time, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda which has five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and troubled the water; whoever stepped in first after the troubling of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be healed?" The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me." Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your pallet, and walk." And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked. Now that day was the sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, "It is the sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet." But he answered them, "The man who healed me said to me, 'Take up your pallet, and walk.' "They asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, 'Take up your pallet, and walk'?" Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you." The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.

Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,

both now and ever and unto ages of ages, Amen.

Christ is Risen!

The Background

During my wife’s graduation, after the music and the welcomes and the keynote speeches and all the official protocols, they had to call on the names of all the graduates of UMary from all the different schools and different degrees, more than 400 names. The event took more than two hours. This was a long event. We couldn’t wait until we were able to get out of our seats and leave.

Now imagine, that this homily will take an hour to finish, let alone a day? And you are in the same seat.

Here comes this paralytic of today’s Gospel, who has been in the same position for almost four decades.

Compare that to the people who work in the corporate world, if someone kept the same title for three years, they would say, I have been in the same position for too long. I am not moving anywhere. This is so frustrating!

But the paralytic of today’s Gospel, was literally to the T in the same position, not in title, but in bed, for a very very long time. Let’s imagine: Thirty-eight years, not Thirty-eight days, not Thirty-eight weeks, not even Thirty-eight months, but years, Thirty-eight years, in the same bed. Imagine! Ironically, he has been in a town calledBethesda,” which, in Hebrew, means “House of Mercy.”, However, most of his life was void of any mercy until Christ came.

Seven Different Emotions

What kind of emotions did this poor man feel?

The first one is hopelessness. He has tried the same thing over and over and over again, and he has failed every single time, not once, not twice, but for four decades. Did he give up? Never! Here is someone who embodies diligence, perseverance and tenacity.

The second emotion that this man felt is inadequacy and weakness. Every single time this poor man tries to get in the pool he would find someone faster. He would find someone stronger, he would be pushed away, pushed back, and bullied. Not once did he win in this fight. However, we never find him leave the pool. He is still there, fighting for his life, or whatever number of days left for his life.

The third emotion that this man felt is physical pain. Imagine the pain that this man felt in his back for being glued to his bed all these years. His legs cannot carry him. The suffering that he felt every time he needed to go to the bathroom, or change his sitting position, or crawl to run to the pool.

The fourth emotion that this man felt is related to poverty, the need for begging, as his situation does not allow him to work and gain his own living. He needs people’s charity, and mercy, and his need to constantly bear the people’s looking down on him, both literally and psychologically.

The fifth emotion that this man felt probably is anger. Especially after the first few years. Why me? Why me? What did I do to deserve this? I served in this sentence for the first year, the first five years, the first decade, the first twenty five years? Isnt that enough?

The sixth emotion is sadness. Which becomes extremely magnified when someone else gets ahead of him in the pool, and he is left dry. He would be probably thinking, I am not worthy of coming close to any angel.

I have No Man

The seventh emotion this man suffered from is loneliness. This became very clear when he cried to Christ: “I have no man.” How hard this is for many of us when they feel that there is no one to rely on, no ear to listen, no shoulder to cry on, no hand to pat on the back, and not even a shadow of a person nearby.

Then Comes Christ the Man

Here, the story that was destined for the saddest of endings, takes an unusual turn.

The answer to the paralytic’s cry: “I have no man.” Was Christ the Man Himself appearing. When Christ was in Pilate’s palace, John 19:5 mentions: “Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, “Behold the Man!”

Christ is the Man, He felt all of the emotions that this paralytic felt: loneliness, when everyone left him before the cross, anger, at the people who defiled the temple, sadness from our spiritual sickness, poverty as he had no place to lay his head, physical pain, from the nails, the torture and the cross, weakness as a child needed to be carried. But Christ conquered all of these emotions, and conquered even death itself, and he rose from the dead.

Christ came to this man because He know how the paralytic feels, He knows that this man is almost dead, but came to Him because of his diligence. Christ did not just pass by and see the man by mere coincidence, but rather the Gospel mentions that “Jesus went up to Jerusalem”. Christ comes for him in particular, there were many other sick men and women next to the pool, Christ didn’t line them all up to heal them and the paralytic was one in line. Quite the contrary, Christ came to him, and to him only. Furthermore, Christ was completely present to him. He didn’t send an angel, he didn’t push him to the water, Christ, the creator Himself, was there and asked him: Do you want to be healed? He asked him to expose his strong will, his diligence, and his patience. His conversations with people always show their true side. He healed the paralytic, both physically and spiritually. Christ Himself came to him and resurrected him from his death bed.

The Question

The Church is asking you and me today: Do you want to be healed?

Have you been suffering for a long time? Have you been in the same tough situation without any near signs of change? Have you lost hope? The Church is telling you today the same words of Pilate: “Behold, the Man”, and is encouraging you to be diligent, Be patient. St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 16:13 “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be men, be strong.” There are many others who kept their faith in the Lord against all odds, Abraham, who stayed without a child for 25 years after He and Sara became elderly. Zacharias and Elizabeth. Hannah the mother of Samuel, Joachim and Anna the parents of the Theotokos, Joppa the paralytic who was healed by Peter, Tabitha who was dead who was mentioned in the Acts reading today. All of these situations seemed hopeless, but Christ is Risen from the Dead. He is the fountain of hope.

Do you want to be healed?

Have you lost hope?

St. Paul tells you never to lose hope:

Romans 12: 11 : “not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer”

Romans 15: ”13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Romans 5 ”3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces [b]perseverance; 4 and perseverance, [c]character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Christ knows how you feel, Christ is here for you to heal you from your sickness, you might of suffered for long and started to lose hope. The Church is telling you today: Hope is here. Christ is Risen. Christ is choosing the perfect time. He is waiting to expose your diligence to others, to strengthen your faith and to show you that you can what you never thought that you can do, so you can become a blessing to others.

Do you want to be healed?

Christ wants to heal you and me, this is why He came. He came that we have life. Not only he resurrected the dead, He is the Resurrection. He is the life, and He is the way.

Do you want to be healed?

Never stop praying. Pray without ceasing. Sing without ceasing, serve without ceasing. Love without ceasing. Pray to the Theotokos, and through her prayers, Christ will hearken and heal you. Amen

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