St Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
161 N. Murphy Ave. Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Sunday of the Blind Man

Sunday of the Paralytic

John 5:1-15

In the Gospel reading appointed for this day, we heard about the healing of the paralytic. Our Lord had come to Jerusalem to observe one of the Jewish feasts. Near one of the gates of the city was a pool which had healing powers as an angel of the Lord would come to stir up the waters. The first person into the waters at the time of this stirring would be healed of their illness. Surrounding the pool lay a multitude of sick people – the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. Among these was a man who had been paralyzed for thirty-eight years. He had been coming to the pool in faith and hope for many years, but each time the waters were stirred, another person would make it into the waters before him.

Day after day, month after month, year after year he came to the pool in hope of making his way into the waters. Day after day, month after month, year after year he was not successful. With patience and persistence, he continued to struggle and to hope, and he was finally rewarded as the Lord passed by and blessed him – restoring him to health such that he was able to take up his bed and walk.

I’m sure there must have been days when he was utterly dejected, utterly frustrated… there must have been days when his faith wavered, and he must have felt that his situation was hopeless.

Isn’t it often the same with us? We may storm the heavens with our petitions for some need or concern which troubles us. We call upon the Lord day after day, month after month, and year after year and it seems that God is deaf to our pleading. We too may reach the point of feeling utterly dejected, utterly frustrated… we may experience our faith wavering and feel that our situation is hopeless. In such a state, we become paralyzed.

It is not uncommon to hear such frustrations and feelings of paralysis with all that is going on in the world today. From the large-scale tragedies of the wars raging and threatening throughout the world to the division and enmity occurring within our nation to the closer-in tragedies of our own struggles within our families or within ourselves… these things can leave us paralyzed, feeling impotent to make any impact upon the downward force of these crises.

This feeling of paralysis is often linked to our sense of unanswered prayer, of not knowing or understanding whether God hears us or what God is doing. We do not see, nor do we understand, how God may be working to turn the tragedies which we experience into occasions for healing, for hope, for transcendence and resurrection.

Many of you may be familiar with the old story of a farmer who had a beloved mare in his stable. One day, the wind blew down the fence and the mare ran off into the woods. The neighbor of the farmer came and said to the farmer: ‘What a tragedy that your prize mare has run away!’ The farmer simply replied: ‘God sees everything - may God’s will be done.’

Some days later, the mare returned, followed by a beautiful stallion. The farmer led the two prize horses into his stable. The neighbor returned and said: ‘How lucky you are! Now you have two wonderful horses!’ The farmer replied: ‘God sees everything - may God’s will be done.’

The farmer’s son worked with the stallion and adopted him as his own. One day when he was out riding, he fell off the stallion and broke his leg. The neighbor came by and said: ‘Oh, this is terrible! Your son has broken his leg!’ The farmer replied: ‘God sees everything - may God’s will be done.’

Soon a war broke out and officials came to the farm seeking young men to go to the front to fight. When they saw the young man with the broken leg, they passed him by as unfit for service. The neighbor rejoiced: ‘How fortunate! Your son has been saved!’ The farmer replied: ‘God sees everything - may God’s will be done.’

The point of the story, and the reality of life, is that we honestly do not know the reasons for certain things – whether they present themselves as tragedies or triumphs to us. The paralytic’s many days and months and years of waiting may have presented themselves as tragic and frustrating for him. But his patience and his persistent trust in God kept him there and it all culminated in his meeting Christ our Lord and the miracle which has been communicated to all the world for generations to hear.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to have faith. We are called to pray… to pray that God’s will be done, that His mercy and His goodness will manifest themselves in the midst of even the darkest of tragedies. And we must fight against the temptation to feel paralyzed when we cannot see nor understand what is happening.

The fact is that your patient and persistent prayers have profound significance. Something good is happening through the patience of one who prays with persistence. That stubborn and determined hope makes an impact on the heavens, on the world, and within the formation of your own soul. Every prayer, prayed with faith and love, draws God’s grace… and that grace will be deployed wherever God, in His divine wisdom, knows it is needed. Maybe your request will not be answered just yet, or in the way that you think it should be… but your effort of prayer sends ripples which impact the world.

Even the paralyzed man, though day after day, and month after month, and year after year, he felt his prayers were going unanswered… little did he know that the movement which he so longed for was already occurring. Though he could not yet move, his prayer drew the footsteps of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, straight to the pool at the gates.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ… do not fall prey to the hopelessness which the evil one tries to instill. You are not paralyzed. You have encountered the Lord and you have been called to take up your bed and walk… By this I mean the gifts we have been given of prayer, of faith, of hope, and of love. Never underestimate the impact of prayer… though you may not see the results when and where you expect them to be, every prayer, every heartfelt groaning of the soul to God, sends that ripple which calls upon the grace of God to work where He will.

Let us embrace the faith of the farmer in today’s story: God sees everything – may God’s will be done!

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