Fifth Sunday of the Holy Lent – The Healing of the Lame Man at Bethesda

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”. (Isaiah 40:31)

The gospel reading of the fifth Sunday of the holy lent is John 5:1-17. It recounts the story of the healing of the paralytic man at the pool of Bethesda.

Pool of Bethesda was built by King Solomon the wise for washing the sheep sacrifices that were brought to the altar. This lame man was sitting among a great multitude of sick people  waiting for the water to be stirred. For an angel came down and stirred the water, then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. The lame man had no one to put him inside the pool in order to be healed.

Our Lord knew about the desperate man, singled him out from the large crowd, and asked him with great love, “Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:6). Our Lord changed this man’s sorrow to joy. At a time when he felt desperate in finding someone to care about him, or that he may be healed, our Lord went to him not by means of water of the pool, but by His word; He told him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk” (John 5:13).

The sickness of this man was because of sin. This is manifested when our Lord saw him later in the altar and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you” (John 5:14). This man was sick for 38 years but he was carrying in his heart the power of hope for being healed even if the waiting time was prolonged.

Pool of Bethesda symbolizes Baptism. We, were beside it sick, lame, blind and paralyzed, suffering every spiritual sickness. The angel which moves the water symbolizes the Holy Spirit which comes down on the water of Baptism. This is our share in Christ: those who are baptized have everlasting hope in the Father, even if they have been sick for 38 years.

During Great Lent, we experience the joy of complete healing, since healing the spirit from sin is more important than healing the physical ailments. Sin is the illness of the spirit, body, and soul; only Christ can grant complete healing. In the Sacrament of Holy Unction, our Church shows us how to experience complete healing. This sacrament is observed on the last Friday of Great Lent. Let us approach this sacrament with joyful and repentant hearts, confident that sin has no power over our bodies, since our bodies have been made holy and are temples of the Holy Spirit, being purified daily by repentance.

During this week of the holy lent we need to learn to hope and never to despair.  Baptism has given us the grace of sonship and children are never disappointed in their hopes in the love of the Father.

The lame man then said, “I have no man to put me into the pool”. This saying teaches us that, “Trusting in God is more beneficial than trusting mankind and hope in God is better than hope in mankind”. It is, therefore, important in our lives to feel that God is our refuge who will fulfill all our needs. We need to know that God is the one who heals. “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me” (Psalms 27:100).

Lameness of the body is a difficult trial; but lameness of the will is ten times worse. The world is full of people whose bodies are disabled and lifeless because of disease, but whose minds and wills are so strong that they are lifted above most of humanity. The world is also full, sadly, with many beings who possess excellent health but whose fear and hopelessness paralyze the potential in their lives.