Ever felt like wanting to give up? Do you feel like you want things to change in your life, but they don’t seem to be working out the way you envisioned?
If the answer is ‘yes’, then Christ has a message for us in today’s gospel that may just be what you need to hear.
Near the Sheep's Gate in Jerusalem, there was a pool, which was called the Sheep's Pool. Around it were five sets of pillars supporting a domed roof. Under this roof there lay very many sick people with various illnesses, awaiting the moving of the water. The first person to step into the water after the troubling of the water was healed immediately of whatever condition he had. Today’s gospel reading talks about a man who was a paralytic and suffered from his condition for 38 years. When Christ came across the man, He asked him, "Do you want to be healed?". However the man answered saying "Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool." The Lord said to him, "Rise, take up your bed, and walk."
Straightaway, at Christ’s words, the man was made well and was able to walk!
The man, then in the presence of all around him, departed for his home, rejoicing at what just took place! Thirty-eight years is a long time to be waiting for healing. St John Chrysostom talks about the perseverance of this man being an example for us all. Each year he would attend the Sheep’s Pool for healing, and each year he had no one to help him get into the water. Yet he did not give up. Likewise, Christ calls each of us to have faith and perseverance in times of struggle and adversary in our lives. Sometimes it’s not easy but He asks us to continue in prayer and have faith in Him, knowing He, as our Creator, in His All-knowing wisdom knows the bigger picture of our lives. He is able to provide what is best for us, both for our souls and bodies, even when we may not be able to understand it.
Yep, sometimes this isn’t easy.
Sometimes we feel we want something so much, but it just hasn’t happened for us yet, even after we’ve prayed for months about it. In these sometimes challenging situations, we are called to remember the mercy and love Christ has for each of us. Just as when a painter starts an artwork, at the beginning, it almost looks unrecognisable. A bunch of lines, that somehow don’t look like much at all. Then slowly, overtime, as the painter continues, the lines start to come together to form shapes, and more shapes. Then, all of a sudden images are formed, and we can see a painting come together. Such can be the same for our lives. We may not understand why things are the way they are, or not as we would wish them to be. But Christ asks us to remember He is our Creator, and loves us more than we can actually comprehend. He will not withhold from us anything, nor give us anything that He knows is not good for us.
Christ wants what’s best for both our souls and our bodies. Sometimes we just need to push forward with patience, faith and prayer, like the man in today’s gospel, and wait to see the final painting Christ is trying to put together in our lives.
Gospel Reading: 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.
Kontakion of Sunday of the Paralytic
I am grievously paralyzed in a multitude of sins and wrongful deeds. As You raised up the paralytic of old, also raise up my soul by Your divine guidance, that I may cry out, "Glory to Your Power O Compassionate Christ."
Sources: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Ancient Faith Ministries “A Lamp for Today” by Edith M. Humphrey