The Sunday of the Healing of the Paralyzed Man
Services This Week:
Reader’s service of Small Compline, Wednesday, 5:30 p.m;
Saturday, Great Vespers, 5:00 p.m.;
Sunday, Third Hour, 9:45 a.m., followed by The Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m.
During the Sundays of the Church year, we each Sunday move through a repeating cycle of eight Tones, with different music and hymns for each tone, which celebrate the resurrection of Christ. This Sunday falls on Tone 3. Here is the Sunday troparion (hymn) of the Resurrection for this Sunday:
Let the Heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad,
for the Lord has done a mighty act with His arm.
He has trampled death by death
and become the First-born of the dead,
He has delivered us from the depths of hell,
and has granted the world His great mercy.
Acts 9:32-42 (Sunday of the Paralytic)
Sing praises to our God, sing praises.
Clap your hands, all you nations.
The Reading is from the Acts of the Holy Apostles.
In those days, as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints that lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years and was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.
Now there was a Joppa disciple named Tabitha, which means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him entreating him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he had come, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping, and showing tunics and other garments which Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside and knelt down and prayed; then turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, rise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and lifted her up. Then calling the saints and widows he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.
John 5:1-15 (Sunday of the Paralytic)
At that time: Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethzatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed waiting for the moving of the water; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and troubled the water; whoever stepped in first after the troubling of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?’ The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked.
Now that day was the sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet.” But he answered them, ‘The man who healed me said to me, “Take up your pallet, and walk.'” They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, “Take up your pallet, and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.
On this day, we commemorate: Apostles Karpos and Alphaios of the Seventy; Sinesios, Bishop; New-martyr Alexander of Thessalonika; Augustine of Canterbury, evangelizer of England.
This week’s Gospel reading is one of at least three detailed, different stories of Christ healing a paralyzed man which we find in the Gospel accounts. In another story, found in varying forms in Saint Luke‘s, Saint Matthew’s and Saint Mark‘s Gospels, a paralyzed man’s friends go to great lengths to bring their friend to Jesus for healing, even – as Saint Luke and Saint Mark relate the story – resorting to lowering him through a hole in the roof! In today’s Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Pascha, however, the disabled man in the story is presented as utterly alone – he waits for a perennial miracle at the pool of Bethesda, but, as he tell Jesus, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.” What loneliness, to be both immobilized and, thus, to some degree (especially in the society of the day) helpless, even shunned, and to watch others go ahead to healing after his years of longing for a chance to be whole, to walk. Here, though, on that day, Jesus the Messiah comes to the one who cannot come to Him – who, it seems, does not even have the comfort of friends who are willing (and able) to bear him to the Source of Healing. Even when we may feel the most isolated, alone, and helpless, Christ comes to us – just as, following His own death, he came to all the captive ones in Hades, bringing life, as we joyously sing throughout this Paschal Season!
“I put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.
He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard outside.
A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench;
but He will bring forth judgment in truth.
He will shine forth and not be broken until He establishes judgment in the earth;
and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
(Isaiah 42:1-4 *)
Saint Augustine of Canterbury
is credited with beginning the re-Christianization of England after the conquest by the Angles and Saxons. He was sent to Britain as a missionary by Saint Gregory the Dialogist, whose name is associated with the Lenten Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts.
From the Ecclesiastical History by Saint Bede the Venerable (circa 731 A.D.):
“Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Apostle of the English, was sent into England by blessed Gregory, and came thither in the year 597. At that time King Ethelbert held the chief power in Kent, and his sway reached even to the Humber. When this King had heard for what reason the holy man was come, he received him kindly, and bade him and his companions, who were all monks, to come to his own capital city of Canterbury ; being struck with astonishment the perfect blamelessness of their lives, and the power of the heavenly doctrine which they preached, and which God confirmed with signs following.
They drew nigh to the city in solemn procession, singing the Litany, and bearing before them for their standard a silver cross and a picture of the Lord our Saviour painted on a panel. Hard by the city, upon the east side, there was a church builded of old time in honour of Saint Martin, and wherein the Queen, who was a Christian, was used to pray. There they first began to meet together, to sing, to pray, to celebrate Masses, to preach and to baptize, until the King was turned to the Faith, and the most part of his people was led by his example, but not his authority, to take the name of Christian ; for he had learned from his teachers and his own soul’s physicians, that men are to be drawn, and not driven to heaven. And now, Augustine, being ordained Archbishop of the English and of Britain, lest he should leave unraveled any part of the Lord’s vineyard, asked from the Apostolic See a new band of labourers, among whom were Mellitus, Justus, Paulinus, and Rufinian.
By them Gregory sent hallowed vessels, altar-cloths, church vestments, and also relicks of the holy Apostles and Martyrs. He instructed them to turn the temples of the idols into places of Christian worship, by sprinkling them with hallowed water, building altars in them, and putting relicks therein. The Britons who, nearly an hundred and fifty years before, had been thrust into the uttermost part of the island, had some bishops, whom Augustine vehemently urged to lay aside their error concerning the keeping of Easter, and to labour along with him for the conversion of the English, but they left it all to him. He toiled much for the saving of souls. He was illustrious for his life. He made Mellitus Bishop of London and Justus Bishop of Rochester, and named Lawrence to succeed himself at Canterbury, and then finished his work in peace, and passed away to that life which is perfect blessedness, upon May 26th, in the year of our Lord 604, in the reign of Ethelbert.”
* This Scripture Passage Nelson, Thomas (2008-06-17). The Orthodox Study Bible: Ancient Christianity Speaks to Today’s World (p. 1090). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition. Other scripture texts and liturgical texts from Antiochian.org.