(John 5: 1-15)
The miraculous healing of the Paralytic, which was described in the Gospel reading helps us to understand this: How God acts in the treatment of those who are in need of healing and how that person must respond to this loving act of God.
An extremely miraculous event was happening in the small lake of Bethesda, next to one of the gates of the fortress of Jerusalem: “an angel of the Lord went down at a certain time and 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” (verse 4).
One day, Jesus went by this gate to enter Jerusalem. In this crowd of ailing people around Bethesda, He saw a paralytic. For 38 years, this sad man lived in this state. It looked like he had no one of his own to take care of him. How does Jesus act? He asks him a question that would seem strange!-“Do you want to be made well?” (Verse 6). One would say: But, Lord, He is paralyzed and You ask if he wants to be made well? He did not come to Bethesda for this reason? Do you need to ask if he wants to be cured?
But this question of the Lord has within it a profound meaning. As we know, God created mankind with freedom of will. God respects this freedom, and he does not violate it, even if he would be doing something for the good of humanity. “God desires all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). He does not force them to be saved. “If anyone desires to come after Me…” (Matthew 16:24), the Lord said. Because of this, the Lord asks the paralytic to express his will. After that, “Jesus said to him, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk.’ And immediately the man was made well” (verses 8-9).
In the incredible healing in the waters of Bethesda, the same thing happened. God through His angel sent His grace to the waters. But the sick must have wanted to immediately enter the water to be cured. Also, the Lord, among other Holy Mysteries of the Church, established the Mystery of Holy Unction, as James writes in his Letter (James 5:14-15). God cures people with this miraculous Mystery. However, the person must also want it and invite the priests of the Church to pray for them and to anoint them with the holy oil.
The Paralytic of Bethesda, with his behavior, shows us how each person should treat a situation of long-term illness. This man had been paralyzed for 38 years. He went to Bethesda with the hope of healing, but being paralyzed it was hard for him to move quickly and be the first one to enter the water. Others who were closer and more able went into the water before him. Even so, as his dialogue with the Lord demonstrates, he does not complain. This suffering man does not blame others or accuse them of indifference. He is patient and determined. Here we see that Jesus wanted to reward his patience, and this is why out of all the others who were there, the paralytic stood out and was healed. This is a great lesson for us too. Patience! It is very difficult for the sick to endure suffering for a long time. Even so, patience has beneficial effects on both body and soul. “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22), the Lord assures us. A classic example is Job’s patience. After so many disasters that his family suffered and his painful illness, God blessed him even more than in the early years of his life.
My dear brothers and sisters, let us avoid anything that can harm our health. But if it should come to harm, let's treat the disease with all the means of medical science, and at the same time with a lot of patience. With all of our hope placed in the Great Doctor of souls and bodies, let’s trust our generous Lord and “commit ourselves and one another,” with the certainty that He with His rich love will do the best for us.