“Sir I have no one to help me . . . “
Homily for the Sunday of the Paralytic
By Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros
Homily for the 4th Sunday after Easter:
The Sunday of the Paralytic
St. John 5:1-15
” Sir, I have no one . . . . Thirty-eight years I have waited.”
The events of the life of Jesus are the accomplishments of the promises of the Old Testament. let us explain some symbols of this event:
The miracle happened at the pool of Bethesda. Bethesda means in Hebrew “House of Mercy”. Jesus is the Merciful.
In the Old Testament an angel was believed to come from heaven to heal the bodies. No man can save other men. The Salvation comes from God. In the Testament God sent his Son Jesus Christ as Healer of bodies and souls.
Near the pool lay “a great multitude of impotent folk of blind, halt, withered, waiting the moving of the water”. That is a picture of the Jewish nation at that time. The Jews were most of them impotent; they had the Law, made their boast in it, but were unable to keep it. They were blind: blind to their desperate need, blind to the Son of God the Merciful who stood in their midst; they were “halt”, that means lame, crippled. Israel had the Law but they were unable to walk in the way of God’s Commandments; they were withered, that means that their hands were paralyzed and incapacitated to work for God. That was the situation of the people to whom God sent the Savior Jesus Christ.
All of them were “waiting”, that means waiting for the promised Messiah, and all the time ignorant of the fact that He was there in their midst!
Jesus will manifest His Glory by healing a paralytic. This man was waiting thirty-eight years. Why thirty-eight years? Thirty-eight years was exactly the length of time that Israel spent in the wilderness after they came under the law at Sinai. There it was, in the wilderness of Sin, that Israel manifested its “impotency” – blind, halt, withered – under Law.
Before healing the paralytic, Jesus asked him: “Do you want to be healed?” Why this question? Because the impotent and all of us are impotent, must recognize his impotency, and believe that there is someone outside him who can heal him. He must ask for the Grace of God, the Mercy of God, and the Strength of God.
In our desperate situation we say: “There is no one to help me!” In faith we say: “God is my helper!”, “Jesus Christ is my Healer”, as we call him in our prayers: “Physician of our souls and bodies”.
Jesus said to him: “rise, pick up your mat and walk”. We read this Gospel in the third Sunday after the Easter, to remember that God who has raised from the dead Our Lord Jesus, will raise us also now from our sins to walk in God’s ways, and after our death will raise us to the eternal Life.
Jesus Christ sent His Apostles to continue His mission on earth. So the Church is the permanent Presence of Christ. The Church is the whole Body of Christ: the bishop, the priests, all men and woman. All of us are the continuation of the presence of Our Savior Jesus Christ in the world. One of the functions of the Church is to be a loving, caring community that reaches out to the suffering and the lonely.
There are today in our societies so many people who say also: “I have no one to help me in my loneliness!” We Christians have the vocation to be the presence of Christ in the world and to manifest the mercy of Christ to all lonely people.
“God is love”, and love of human beings. God is not indifferent to those whom He has created. We call Him n our prayers the “philanthopos”, that is the “lover of humankind”, of every human being. “God loved the world so much that he gave his only on, that everyone who believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “In this God’s love for us was manifest among us that God sent into the world his only Son, so that we could have life through Him” (1 John 4:8-10).
And since we are created on the image and likeness of God, we are created to be the incarnation of this divine love towards our fellow human beings. We cannot be indifferent toward God who so loved us; and at the same time we cannot be indifferent toward the men and woman who need us. “This is the commandment He has given us, that anyone who loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:21).