The Church is the New Bethzatha – the Space of Healing

On 11 May 2014, the Orthodox Christians are on the 4th Sunday after Easter. According to the order of our Church, the evangelical pericope of Saint John the Evangelist, 5:1-15, was read at the Divine Liturgy, a fragment that presents the healing of the sick man at Bethzatha pool by Jesus Christ, our Saviour.

In the sermon delivered at the chapel of the Patriarchal Residence His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel explained the significance of the Gospel of the day emphasising the fact that the 4th Sunday after Easter, also called of the sick man, shows us that Christ, our Lord, heals both the sick and the sinner.

The spring of life and good health is in Jesus Christ

The Patriarch of Romania has also shown that the entire period after the Resurrection of the Lord shows us that Christ, our Lord, is the spring of life and of good health: “The period following the feast of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, shows us that the spring of life and good health is in Jesus Christ, the spring of mercy and forgiveness of the sins, the spring of raising the man from the death of the sin and of foretasting the eternal life ever since this world, as earnest through our meeting Him and the Holy Communion. This is why in the Gospel of the second Sunday after Easter, called Thomas’ Sunday, Christ heals his disciple Thomas from doubt telling him: “Stop your doubting and believe!” Then, in the Gospel of the Myrrh Bearing Women He heals the myrrh bearing women from fear telling them: “Rejoice, do not be afraid!”. In this Sunday Gospel, called the Sunday of the Sick man, we see Jesus healing a paralysed man, at Bethzatha pool. Then, on the Sunday of the Samaritan woman we shall see Christ, our Lord, healing a woman from her inconstant love, and on the 6th Sunday after Easter, the Blind man’s Sunday, healing a man from physical blindness.”

Do you want to get well?

His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel emphasised the fact that Christ, our Saviour, sees the patience of the man who spent thirty eight years suffering with no revolt, in silence and patience, and He heals him.

“Today’s Gospel shows us that Jesus Christ, our Saviour, goes to Bethzatha with one precise purpose, namely to heal a sick man who was suffering for thirty eight years and was waiting for God’s mercy and help. The Gospel does not tell for what sin the man was suffering so much. The sick or paralysed man from Bethzatha pool, which means the house of mercy in the Hebrew language of the Old Testament, speaks about his loneliness lived with no help at all from those around. When Jesus asks him: “Do you want to get well?”, he answers: “Sir, I have no one here to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am trying to get in, somebody else gets there first”, namely till he crawls to the water. Thirty eight years of sufferance caused by sickness, plus a fierce loneliness caused by the neglect of those around. This man was not alone in a desert, but alone in a crowd of people. The sick man from Bethzatha was not living far from people, but he was among many other sick people accompanied by friends of by the members of their families who were in good health and looking after them. But they took good care only of their sick, and once these ones were healed they were not interested in any other sick man or woman. Thirty eight years of sufferance with no revolt, thirty eight years of patience with no protest, thirty eight years of loneliness caused by helplessness marked the hard life of this paralysed man. He always waited for the angel to stir up the water as a new chance of healing if somebody could help him get into the water. While being in a crowd of people, he was waiting for only one merciful man to help him get into the pool to be healed. There were many people around him, but their humanity had disappeared. Although there were many people around, they seemed to be a spiritual desert for him, because their selfishness and indifference made their souls empty”, the Patriarch of Romania said.

His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel showed in his sermon that Christ, our Lord, knew the long sufferance of the sick man, as well as his repentance for his sins, his much patience with no revolt, for which fact He healed him: “It was to this man who had been paralysed for thirty eight years and helped by nobody that Jesus Christ, the Son of God – who was made man for the humans’ salvation – came. This man who had been suffering for thirty eight years seemed to be older than Jesus Christ, our Lord. Thus, he had been suffering ever since before the birth of Christ as man and His coming into the world. Because this man was waiting with long patience and never ending hope for the time when he could be healed too, God-the-Man, Jesus Christ, has come to help him. Jesus knew the sick man’s long sufferance, as well as his much repentance for his sins, his much patience with no revolt and his uninterrupted hope. When the sick man told Jesus: “Sir, I have no one here to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up”, he rather expressed, in fact, a request, than an explanation. He felt that the man who could help him get into the pool after the angel stirred up the water was near him. But the sick man would notice that the man near him had not come to help him get into the pool, but to heal him right away and discreetly, by word, telling him: Get up, pick up your mat and walk. Full of faith, verified through sufferance, the sick man from Bethzatha pool got up, picked up the mat he was lying on and walked. Meanwhile, the One who told him: Get up, pick up your mat and walk, was no longer there, but went somewhere else, namely to the Temple”.

We must always do good

The Patriarch of Romania emphasised the fact that healing the sick man on a Saturday, Christ, our Lord, shows us that we must do good any time: “Healing this sick man on a Saturday, Jesus Christ, our Saviour, shows us that we must always do good, both on a week day and on a holiday. Let us always show merciful love and help those in distress, sick and lonely! Why that? Because any time we show mercy and kindness to those who need our help, we glorify the Good Merciful God. The merciful devoted love of the people for their fellow beings in distress is the sign that the merciful love of God for the humans works through the people who help others.

The Church is the New Bethzetha

Bethzetha pool is the representation of salvation through the work of the Church, the Patriarch of Romania also said: “The Holy Fathers of the Church say that the angel who stirred up the water and healed the first man who got into the pool represented the Sacrament of Baptism with the difference that in the Old Testament the grace was given as foretaste not as fullness, while in the Church of Christ the gift of forgiveness and healing the sins and diseases is given in all its fullness. Only the first man who got into the pool was healed at the time, whereas now all those baptised in the pool or water of the Baptism are healed. The people baptised are healed from the disease of the ancient sin and from all the spiritual sins and diseases if they have strong faith. The Church is the new Bethzeth, the space of healing, or the place of rising through the saving healing grace of the Holy Sacraments”, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel said.

On 18 May 2014, the Orthodox Church will be on the 5th Sunday after Easter dedicated to the Samaritan woman.

Photo: “Lumina” newspaper