SUNDAY OF THE PARALYTIC
4th Sunday after Easter
by V. Rev. Archimandrite Panteleimon P. Lampadarios
Patriarchal Vicar of Alexandria
The life of the Paralytic, who waited at the sheep pool, which in Hebrew is called Bethesda, was dramatic. For thirty eight years he was paralized and abandoned. Alone, amongst so many ill people and fellow country men, waited with patiently the miraculous movement of the waters, which cured the first person to fall in. In this environment Christ meets with the paralytic. God meets with His creation. The God-man with man.
Christ approached with philanthropic intentions the Paralytic and asks him: “Do you want to be sound?” The Lord with discretion asks, in order to cure; with love He seeks, in order to save.
The Paralytic waited patiently for thirty eight whole years and his hopes were never wear down, he never disbelieved, he never drew back. He awaited, although all his friends and relatives had abandoned him. Everyone returned back to their homes, works, families, because they saw that nothing is happening. In vain they were trying to help their relative, to throw him in the pool. Meanwhile others, more advance, were healed and he remained ill. Their faith and hopes had wear away and they abandon him. The paralytic expressed his complain to Christ by saying, Lord, I have no one to assist me”.
Lord, I have no one! I have no relatives! I have no friends! I haven’t any fellow man, who would like to stay with me! I remained alone, in the loneliness of my illness and my sufferings, and no one is found to offer me help!
Every day, the five galleries of the pool of Bethesda were full of crowds and invalid, but nevertheless no one was willing to share the Paralytic’s sufferings. As, today, millions of people suffer from different bodily or spiritual diseases, and all with one voice cry out: “Lord, we have no one”! Diseases, which torment man and deliver him to depression and affliction; to isolation and loneliness; and man cries out with a loud voice: “Lord, we have no one”!
Affliction and pain are interwoven with our life. Wealth and material goods do not prevent their invasion into our life. They are brought in by the malaises and sicknesses of our beloved ones. They are brought in by the ingratitutes of friends and relatives. They are brought in by the slanders and mucks. They are brought in by suspiciousness and misunderstandings. They are brought in, when our work and services are not recognized; by feelings, which were rebuted and hopes, which were never fulfilled. Affliction and pain stand before man’s life and knock the door of all. They do not know anyone or any society, conditions or positions. They do not distiguish between poor and rich, learned or illiterate.
The Paralytic of today’s Gospel reading, followed a programme of a sinful way of life. The Lord, is not satisfied to cure him. The sins of the paralytic had ruined him. It would be worthy to cure him, but under the precondition, that he will sin no more.
Sin and the prodigal way of life are the reasons of man’s different tribulations. Our moral and family sufferings have their roots in our own desires. We cause them with our own foolish behaviour and sinful deeds. And because of this reason, our Lord commended the Paralytic, “You have become well; sin no more, so that nothing worse happens to you” in other words, now you have been heeled, be careful not to practice a sinful life, in order that nothing worse happens to you.
Unfortunately, although all of us know that this advice is so logical and true, we tend to violate it. We allow our pride to overrule our logic. We run the risk of participating in mischievously amusements, irrational alcoholism, paranoid smoking, unnecessary vigils when playing cards, unlawfully sexual relationships, and calamitous companies with evil men.
How many times, although we had promise, that we shall not sin, we had found ourselves in the mortal tentacles of sin? How many times, although we had the will to withstand to our sinful desires, we had from the first moments surrendered to the passions of the flesh? How many times we felt strong, but have been proven weak?
If the soul is not under God’s Grace, sin will always prevail. Sin drags and humiliates man. The Prophet David says, “If the Lord has not built the city, in vain the builders labour. If the Lord has not protected the city, in vain the guards watched all night”.
When man sins, he sins with a ill will, without moral strength. Thus man, who becomes a slave to sin, is compared to an ungovernable ship, which has no helm, neither compass nor anchor. This condition makes man paralytic spiritually and bodily. At the end he is dragged to death itself. St. Paul, the Great Apostle of the Nations, says, “The bread of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). “How miserable am I’ who will deliver me from this body of death?” and he answers, “through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 7:24-25), because “the grace of God is eternal life” (Rom. 6:23).
And truly, my beloved friends, sin can be overcomed only with the assistance of God’s Grace. Our Lord has assured us saying, “that without Me you can achieve nothing” (John 15:5).
My beloved friends in Christ,
Today, we cannot find the proper words to describe the theology of St. Paul who proclaimed, “God has shown His love to us, that when we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8), in order that He offers us the adoption (Gal. 4:5) and to be “inheritors of God, co-inheritors of Jesus Christ” (Rom. 8:17). Let us then struggle to shake off the paralytic sinful life and the spiritual mortification, and with the Grace of the Resurrected Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to receive the health of our soul and body; to become a whole personality in Christ; and generally for our whole life to be a doxology of God’s glory. Amen.