Sunday of the Paralytic / Mother’s Day (Byzantine Rite): 10 May 2020

Kontakion 3rd Tone:

I am grievously paralyzed in a multitude of sins and wrongful deeds. As You raised up the paralytic of old, also raise up my soul by Your divine guidance, that I may cry out, “Glory to Your Power O Compassionate Christ.”

Reading from the Book of Psalms

I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

~Chapter 40, Verses 1-3

Reading of the Acts of the Apostles

And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda. And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy.

And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole:
arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately. And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord. Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good
works and alms deeds which she did.

And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died:
whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them.

Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. But Peter put them all forth, and
kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise.

And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.

And it came to pass, that he tarried many days in Joppa with one Simon.

~Chapter 9, Verses 32-43

Reading from the Gospel of John

Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water:

whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the Sabbath.

The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the Sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me,
Take up thy bed, and walk. Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

~Chapter 5, Verses 2-15


In all of our readings today, a body unsound and heart troubled, even to the point of death, is made whole by crying out in faith.

First , a prayer by David to God in Psalms, then in the deeds of Christ as described by John, who disobeys the laws and tenants of the Temple and heals where only Angels have before, showing both his power over the old covenants and his compassion for the suffering of man.

We also hear of Peter who by invoking the name and authority bestowed by Christ to the early church would then raise and heal up to and including death itself on a woman of faith.

Here, just weeks after Christ conquers death, we are reminded that doing so in faith is possible. The world cries out in fear and pain, suffering and anguish, faith is tested and tried in the heart in new ways, but no less meaningful than they would have been to the authors of the texts today.

Modern medicines and capabilities have not replaced the need for faith, a current pandemic ensures no shortage in the need for prayer and understanding that with Christ, death itself is only one journey.

These examples of cures and a miracle are not just meant to serve as examples of the wonders that they are, but to be a giant dose of anxiety relief. To show that faith can conquer death. This is not a lottery ticket or bargaining plan for healing a body or keeping our loved ones with us longer when tragedy strikes, but a true spiritual life and afterlife initiation in faith.

Believe and rise not because someone put you in the water someone else told you would heal you because someone else said it did, but because you believed you could and did.

This Sunday in the United States is also Mothers Day; becoming a mother has many beautiful examples in our Gospels and Icons – The Holy Theotokos, her own Mother St. Anne, and so many other Blessed Saints and Martyrs of faith.

Motherhood by birth or by circumstance takes exactly the type of faith being called for by the invalid at the pool, or even the woman who had passed away in the upper room. Feats beyond her physical body and understanding are required hour by hour to care for and create a family.

A mother must provide her own body until a life is born then all it takes to get that life to the point it can do so itself in every way until her life is nearly spent.

Thus is the way of nature.

In this there is great joy and sorrow and also a great deal of anxiety. A physical fear of death that is never far from the surface, as a mother goes from fearing her own death in the pain of childbirth, to fearing for the life of her child or children being taken before her own.

Today’s Gospel gives freedom from that anxiety to the Mother, the paralytic, and those who are passed or are passing, with exactly the same power and compassion.

His love is found in the sacredness in each of these. Let us remember all mothers today, and anyone suffering the anxiety, before the freedom from it that faith brings, as Christ releases our hearts and minds from paralysis by faith, and in the Sacraments the work and Word do the rest.


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