Gospel Reading May 7th (John 5:1-15)

Sunday of the Paralytic


On the third Sunday after Easter, we read in the Gospel of John about Christ’s visit to the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, where there lay “a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralysed, waiting for the moving of the water”. The fact that only one person at a time was healed by the occasional appearance of the angel was not a limitation of God’s power, but rather a pedagogic means through which the people could be led, through patience, to place all their hope in God. The most remarkable example was the man whom Jesus approached, who had been paralysed for 38 years.

It was his astonishing patience that attracted Christ’s attention and compassion. When Jesus asked him, “Do you want to be made well?”, he recognised that sin was the cause of the man’s illness, and called him to desire redemption from his spiritual infirmity as well as his physical paralysis. The man responded respectfully, without a hint of resentment at this apparently insensitive question. In a hymn of our Church, Christ points out the irony in the man’s ignorance of who is speaking to him: “I became man for your sake, I clothed myself in flesh for your sake, and you say to me ‘I have no man’?”

The man’s inner transformation and gratitude to God for his healing is evident from the fact that Jesus later found him in the temple, and that he proclaimed his benefactor to the Jews, not as a man who broke the Sabbath, but as Christ, his Saviour. St John Chrysostom explains how this miracle prefigures the grace which the Church offers to all the faithful: “Then infirmity was an obstacle to the one wishing to be healed, but now everyone has the power to approach. Now it is not possible to say, ‘while I am coming, another steps down before me’. Even if the whole world comes, the grace is never depleted but is given freely to all. Just as the rays of sun shine each day and are never exhausted by their abundant supply of light, even so is the grace of the Spirit never diminished by the multitude of those who receive it.”

Source: Lychnos April / May 2017