Deep joy and heartfelt jubilation fill us as we read about Christ's miracles in the Gospel. These readings convey His infinite power, providential care, and ultimate love for all men. But they also teach us important life lessons. So let us take a closer look today at the narration about the paralytic.
He had been ill for a long time. For thirty-eight years, he had been lying at Sheep's pool with the other invalids. Three words in the Gospel described their condition: blind, lame and paralysed. But do not all of these descriptions equally apply to us? Are we not blind because we cannot see? Are we not deaf because we cannot hear His word? Are we not paralyzed, because we have no energy to live? The invalids were hoping for a splash. They waited for someone to come and put them in the pool. They were all in the expectation of some external event that would change their lives.
In our lives on this earth, the lobby of Heaven, are we not like these invalids at the pool? Are we not waiting like them for an Angel of God to perform a miracle that will make us see, hear and live?
Miracles do happen. Some people come out of the baptismal font renewed and reborn. They partake of the Sacraments of God and rise to a new life; they glow with His grace as if they have emerged from the healing waters of the Bethesda pool. Yet that does not happen to everyone, but only to those few who receive a touch of God's grace. We do not know how they are selected. But the rest of us continue to wait for their turn at the pool, blind, deaf and paralysed. God came to the paralysed man, learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, and asked him, “Do you want to get well?” With these words, He sends us a clear message. We should all ask ourselves that same question, and we should all be able to answer: "Yes, I do wish to be cured. I do want this miracle to happen."
But are we ready for it? Are we all prepared to seek it out and embrace it? The blessed Augustine knew how deep he was in sin and how despicable his condition was. Still, he said to the Lord: "Please make me pure, but do it later." We pray; we strive to live by the Gospel and aim for everlasting life, but do not we respond to Him in the same manner: "Grant me this O Lord, but first give me time to do my will and sin as I please, without reminding me about Your cross and Your Resurrection...”?
Christ confronts us with the same question: "Do you want to get well? Do you want life?” If we answer with an honest yes, He will not have us wait for the water to swirl or His power to descend. He will tell us immediately: "Get up and walk!"
Get up and walk! Get up with faith and confidence; do not wait to be lifted! My grace will show you where to go! When we pray, we often know that we can begin to act on our prayers. Still, we do nothing, expecting God to do it for us. But God gives us the strength to live. He died for our sake, but He cannot live our lives for us.
So let us all remember the narration about the Paralytic and apply it to ourselves. Let us pray that God will give us His grace and strength, but remember to take responsibility for our lives and choices. Let us dedicate our lives to Him, remembering the words of the Apostle: "I can do all this through him who gives me strength."
Metropolitan Anthony of Surozh