May 26, 2024

Homily One for the Sunday of the Paralytic (St. John of Kronstadt)

By St. John of Kronstadt

Today, the story from the Gospel of John was read about the healing by the word and command of Christ of a paralytic in Jerusalem, who was at the Sheep Gate pool.

There was "a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, 'Do you want to be made well?' The sick man answered Him, 'Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.' Jesus said to him, 'Rise, take up your bed and walk.' And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, 'It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.' He answered them, 'He who made me well said to me, Take up your bed and walk.’ Then they asked him, 'Who is the Man who said to you, Take up your bed and walk?' But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, 'See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.' The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well” (John 5:1–15).

This Gospel presents us with many instructive and moral things. The font or miraculous pool in Jerusalem represented the Christian baptismal font, in which not one, not two, but all those who are immersed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, receive healing from spiritual ailments, i.e. from sins, according to their faith or that of their godparents; and it is no longer the Angel of the Lord, but the Holy Spirit Himself, the Life-Giving Lord, who descends into the font and sanctifies the water and gives it the grace of renewal, revitalization, healing of spiritual and bodily ailments.

Who interceded and gave us this font of grace for rebirth, cleansing and sanctification? - Jesus Christ. Without this font, we would be eternally useless, unworthy not only of adoption by God, but also of the vision of God; for the Lord God is the purest Spirit, and abhors all uncleanness of sin. Let us all carefully preserve the spiritual garment of baptism, the garment of purity and incorruptibility and the betrothal of the Holy Spirit, which we were vouchsafed at baptism; and if we have already defiled this garment with various sins and passions, then let us take care to purify ourselves through sincere repentance and spend the rest of our lives in repentance and virtue and preparation for eternity; for we are all called by the Lord to holiness and righteousness (Eph. 5:9) and to eternal life.

The unfortunate paralytic had been ill for thirty-eight years, lying on his bed, and could not be healed because he was helpless and had no person who would immediately lower him into the pool after the water in it was disturbed by an angel; only the Lord, having compassion on him, immediately healed him, saying to him afterwards: "Behold, you are healed, sin no more, lest something worse happen to you." This paralytic depicts all mankind sick with sin, suffering from sinful paralysis for so many thousands of years. Christ God alone, the only righteous and holy one, Who offered Himself as a sacrifice for us to God the Father for our deliverance from sin, can heal us from sinful weaknesses, these forerunners of eternal death, to which unrepentant sinners will be subjected; but for our complete healing from sin, He requires only perfect repentance, which, although it is a matter of our free will, is at the same time the greatest gift of God's goodness to us.

Thus, paralyzed and depressed by sins, let us offer to God full, sincere repentance, proved and justified by good works, that we may be vouchsafed from Christ God health of soul and body, and most importantly – eternal well-being and blessedness in the future life, for which we are redeemed by the sufferings and death of the Son of God. Only warm, fervent repentance cleanses sins and gives our heart health, peace, tranquility, light, strength and power, boldness and joy. Only the font of tears heals us of the terrible, malignant disease of sin. Let us weep for our sins. God! grant us tears, cleansing the filth of our hearts, that we may please You with them. What forbids you to repent, to shed tears for your sins? These means of salvation are always with you, if only you have faith in Christ, hope in His mercy, and remain invincible to all your sins. There is no need to wait now for the water in the pool to be disturbed, and now there is no such pool, which in its time was an image of our baptismal font and the font of tears of repentance. Now you can be healed in your pool of tears every day and hour, as soon as you repent.

Our sweetest Savior Himself stands at the doors of your heart and knocks on them, so that you will open the doors to Him through your repentance: and He will come to you and heal you, and strengthen and comfort you. "Behold, I stand at the door," says the Lord, "and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me" (Rev. 3:20).

Glory to You, our all-merciful Savior, every day and hour, always, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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