Saturday, May 25, 2013
Excerpt from a homily on the Paralytic by St. John Chrysostom
Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!
Christ healing the Paralytic by the Pool of Bethesda (source)
Having had the fortune of formerly seeing the paralytic by the pool lying on his bed, we have found a vast and great treasure, not by digging withing the earth, but by excavating his mind. We have found a treasure, not of silver, or bearing gold or precious stones, but endurance and philosophy and patience, and much hope in God, which is more precious than any gold or any rich thing...
For thirty and eight years an ancient and incurable illness continually scourged him, but neither did he lift up his hand to do evil, nor did he offer up a blasphemous word, nor did he condemn those who were near him, but bravely, and with his great graciousness, he was brought to the pool. And why was this said? For does not the Scripture speak clearly of the life above, when is said that he had his infirmity for thirty-eight years? It wishes to say that he did not lift up his hand towards evil, nor was he enraged...and no one came to him. And when this is said, pay close attention, and not disdainfully nor simply. When he heard Christ coming to him, and he truly did not know Him, but thought that He was some tall person, and after this He spoke to him, and before them He wished to show his philosophy. For He said to them: “Do you wish to be well?”, he did not say to Him, “You see me lying here for so many years, and you ask me if I want to be well? Have you come to ridicule me and laugh at my misfortune, and make a comedy of these events?” He did not say words like this, but he said with graciousness: “Yes, Lord.” For after thirty-eight years he was meek, and gracious, and his vigor characterized him, and the strength of his thoughts, and he appears as one who is in the beginnings of troubles. For there is a difference between those displeased ones in the beginning of their illness, and those after the passage of time. For then the sick lift up their hands to do evil, when after time their illness becomes totally unbearable. After many years neither do they philosophize, nor are they noted to be inscrutable, but he, after all of that time, showed thanksgiving.
Therefore, let us reason to imitate the patience of our fellow servant. For his paralysis is sufficient to choke the paralysis of our souls. For do not think of him as sluggish or reclining at the greatness of events, but he bore all dangers that fell upon him with bravery, though they were unbearable. And it was not his healing alone, but his sickness that became a cause for great benefit. For his healing brought glorification to the Master, and raised up the souls of those who heard it. But his illness and sickness compels us towards patience, and calls us towards zeal. And it more so showed the philanthropy of God. And therefore this illness which he suffered, and the time that he remained in sickness, was a great trust. For as gold in the furnace is revealed as gold after being tried by fire, and it becomes more pure. Thus, God allows the souls of men to be tried by dangers, until they become pure and transparent, and many from this trial are benefitted by bearing fruit. This is a special and great benefaction...
Christ has risen from the dead, by death he has trampled on death, and to those in the graves given life!
Truly the Lord is risen!