Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Paralytic man healed by Jesus

paralytic.jpgChrist found the sick man lying at the sheep’s pool. He lay there for 38 years, hoping for miraculous healing, which was only given to one person every time the Angel descended. The fathers are quick to remind us that in the New Testament, healing is available to all in the Mystery of Holy Baptism:

But this was not the case after the Master Christ had come. The first man to go down into the pool of the waters of Baptism was not the only one to be cured. The first, the second, the tenth, the twentieth - all were cured. Even if you speak of ten thousand or twice or three times as many, if you speak of numbers without limit, if you put the whole world into the pool of waters, its grace is not diminished, it stays just as strong as it washes all those people clean. That is the great difference between the power of a servant and the authority of a master. The servant cured a single person; the Master cures the whole world. The servant cured a single person once a year. If you wish to put ten thousand in the pool daily, the Master returns them all to you sound and healthy.
St John Chrysostom, 4th century

st_bede.jpgWhat was the spiritual meaning of this bodily healing? What does it teach us today?

‘Rise’ means shake off the sluggishness of the vices in which you have been ailing for a long time, and rouse yourself to the practise of virtues…’Rise’ by doing good works….’Take up thy bed’ means lovingly carry your neighbour, patiently tolerating his weaknesses, since he patiently put up with you for a long time when you were weighed down by the burden of temptations. ‘Keep on bearing one another’s burdens, and thus fill up the law of the Christ (Gal. 6:2) …So leave behind your earlier sins, and come to the aid of your brothers’ needs…. ‘Walk’ means to love God with your whole heart, soul, and strength, so that you may be worthy to reach the vision of Him. Go forward by making daily strides of good works from virtue to virtue. Do not desert your brother, …nor turn aside from the right direction of your path…In everything you do, see to it that you do not fix your mind upon this world, but that you hurry to see the face of your Redeemer.
St Bede the Venerable, 7th century

Bodily illness can have many different causes, but Christ’s words to the healed man “Sin no more” indicate that often they are caused by sin.

Not all diseases proceed from sin, but the majority of them do from our manner of living. I mean from remissness or from immoderate indulgence of bodily appetites as well as laziness and inactivity produce such sufferings. But the one rule we have to observe is to bear every stroke thankfully; for they are sent because of our sins;…they are sent also to make us approved.
St John Chrysostom, 4th century

The fathers teach us that bodily illness is not something we should sorrow over. It is a spiritual treatment given by God to heal us from sin, purify us from stains, and give us an opportunity to imitate the holy Martyrs.

We shuld not dread any human ill - neither poverty, nor disease, nor insult, nor malicious treatment, nor humiliation, nor death - save sin alone.
St John Chrysostom, 4th century

The sin of the first-created ones is willful turning away from God toward oneself. In this way we set ourselves in the place of God, actually worshiping self instead of the Creator. In this way the suffering of illness serves the same purpose today as it did in the beginning: For this reason it is a sing of God’s mercy and love. As the holy fathers say to those who are ailing, ‘God has not forgotten you, He cares for you.
Sts Barsonuphius and John, 5th century


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