Sunday of the Paralytic Fourth Sunday Of Pascha "Wilt thou be made whole (wilt thou wait for the second healing)?¦ John 5:1-15 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. 5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? 7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. 8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. 9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. 10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. 11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. 12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? 13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. 14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. 15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Christ is risen! Truly he is risen! Today we see a man who was healed twice, and we Orthodox Christians must recognize how God heals us and how that obligates us. As Christians, we fall far short of the mark. We are very poor at giving thanks to God, very poor at remembering His mercies, very poor at changing our priorities, at arranging our schedules. And we fall far short of receiving this second healing. Now in the case of the paralytic, he could not walk, his legs were not strong. And he waited a long time; 38 years is taken by the fathers to be an indication of a lifetime -- maybe not a lifetime now, but very near a lifetime then. And that lifetime indicates everything that is wrong with a man, all sins, all infirmities, all incompleteness, everything that's lacking in us. Any man who has any honesty in his heart knows that he is incomplete, and longs to be changed. So the first healing is bringing us into the Church in our case -- for the paralytic, it was to make him able to stand. He didn't know anything about Christ, didn't know who this man was who said, "Wilt thou be made whole?", didn't know anything. But he was raised up. Now the second healing is where the man was enlightened by Christ. He saw Him in the temple -- which was a good place for him to have been -- and Christ conveyed to him who He was. And He told him something very important: "thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing befall thee." And we as Orthodox Christians are very poor at remembering these things that the Lord says when He says "sin no more." Many, many times, God's mercy is linked very strongly to our responsibility to think, to act, to breathe as Christians. We are very poor at it. It is very strange that the time of the worst church attendance is after Pascha. The time when people end up telling me in confession that the hardly said their prayers. The most likely time for that is after Pascha. Satan steals away grace from us like the birds steal the seed away from the ground, because it hasn't taken root. This story really is present at this period of the year not for this message that I'm trying to give you now, but instead to further focus on how the resurrection changes a man, and enlightens a man. We will see it again and again during this Pentecostarion period, how God enlightens, and the application of the resurrection. We see it in the paralytic, and we'll see it especially in the blind man, in the Samaritan woman. But we also must see a sidebar to these healings and these enlightenments that we will look at, even if only briefly, even if only for a moment on a Sunday. We are obligated. We are obligated. Every year I wrestle, and I think I lose the wrestling match every year, but my pastoral conscience tells me that I must say, take up your bed and walk! You must look in the mirror and judge yourself, and say, am I living as a Christian? Am I keeping the fast? Am I coming to church when I can, or am I only coming when it is convenient to me? Am I saying my prayers or am I just kind-of saying a quick make the sign of the cross and rush out and turn on the radio? We are obligated, brothers and sisters, and this obligation is not because it is a rule that is bestowed with an iron fist. God wants to give you every blessing! And I, as minister of the Gospel, am charged with making everything possible available to you that I as a mortal, who have been given the responsibility and the ability to deal with the immortal, can do. But you must take it! You must grab it! You must pray. You must fast. You must come to the services. You must take up your bed and walk. Perhaps I'll win this wrestling match some year, and I will only speak of the joy of Pascha, and of the enlightenment that God gives, but so far I've lost, because my heart is heavy this time of year. Take up your bed and walk! You've been healed, you've been put in the waters of baptism -- that's what the troubling of the water means! This theology is a lot more important than the movie of the week, you know. We should know these things. The troubling of the water indicates baptism, but only one man was healed a year when the Archangel Michael went down to the water. You'd know that from the services: Archangel Michael troubled the water. He's not mentioned in the scriptures, but he is mentioned in the services. One man only! But Christ can heal the whole man, and He can heal everybody! This is exciting news. But when the God-man says, "take up your bed and walk," He doesn't just tell you to do it; He gives you the ability to do it! And who are we to languish in inconstancy and in laziness and in falling headlong into just sort-of the stream of life? This is very bad, to do this. We do not recognize the mercy of God when we do this. And you miss the grace. It streams by you, and you don't catch any of it. Or you catch such a small amount, and still have all of your sins, and all of your passions, and all of your problems, and it's right there for you to be helped. You have the oasis only within a few steps, and you're thirsting to death! The heavily-laden table, full of sweet meats, and you're hungry! Take up your bed and walk! You still have time in this blessed period between now and Pentecost, when God wants to really reveal, in a very significant, extreme way, His enlightenment. This is the period of time when He really especially does this. We've gotta be here to listen! Not just here in this building, but in our prayers, in our reading of holy things, in all these things that are necessary for ourselves. Not for my sake, for your sake, take up your bed and walk! Now I pray that next year I will win this wrestling match and I will speak to you about what I really want to talk to you about. Exciting news! But this kind of news has to be shared by people who are of the same mind, striving together. Let's be of the same mind about living the Christian life. Struggle with me! I'm not a very good struggler, I need a lot of help, you know. Struggle together. Make up your mind that you're going to fast better, you're going to say your prayers in the morning and not just two and a half seconds worth, or one minute worth. You're going to say your prayers! If you always have the habit of listening to Paul Harvey at twelve o'clock noon -- you can always remember that, and that's five minutes of your day -- you can remember five minutes of prayer in the morning, or fifteen. Let's start with five, and five at night, and to read holy things together. If you do this, you'll expand. God will fill you with knowledge, and some of the problems that have been assailing you will start to be washed away. It will happen. It will happen! The process is agonizingly slow for most Christians, and they see barely any progress at all, because they've not added enough effort to God's grace. So may we take up our bed and walk. To the ability that we can, add to this grace. Some of us can run, some of us can fly like eagles, some of us can only crawl. I can only crawl, but let's crawl, together. May God help us to take up our bed and walk, to struggle with all the things in the Christian life for our benefit. God has much to give us, and we don't see it. It's right here! Do you realize that the angels are present right now? They're right here! Do we see any of them? No, because our eyes have scales on them. We do not see what God wants to give us. This is a tragedy, that we don't see the angels. A tragedy, that we don't feel the fullness of what's happening right now. May God enlighten us, a little bit at a time, a little step at a time. He's not asking you to pray in the air tomorrow; He's asking you to respond to His grace like a flower responds to the sun, like a child to his mother's embrace. This is the way we must live. The flower never turns away from the sun, and yet the Christian does. Let us not be like the world. Let us focus our lives on what matters, on the salvation of our souls, so that we can see what God wants to tell us. This is exciting news; it truly is incredible news, what He 43has in store for us. May God bless you and help you. Amen.