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Homily for 4/29/07 - Pascha 4 - pools and fountains

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  • Fr David Moser
    We have just heard the account of the healing of a paralytic at the pool of Bethesda. There are many accounts in the Gospels of how Jesus healed those who
    Message 1 of 1 , May 2 8:23 PM
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      We have just heard the account of the healing of a paralytic at the pool
      of Bethesda. There are many accounts in the Gospels of how Jesus healed
      those who suffered from some kind of paralysis and yet this is the one
      that is brought out for us every year on this the 3rd Sunday after
      Pascha. These weeks after Pascha are a very special time, for, like the
      disciples, we are filled with the joy of the Resurrection and yet there
      is much that has not yet been revealed. The feasts of the Ascension of
      the Lord into Heaven and of Pentecost with the descent of the Holy
      Spirit are still a few weeks away. This time is when our Lord brought
      all of His earthly teaching together for the disciples, reminding them
      of everything that happened so that they might go forth into all the
      world preaching the good news of God’s love for us and His victory over
      sin, death and the devil which freed us to follow Him into His Kingdom.
      This incident of the healing of the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda
      contains much that reminds us not only of our Lord’s mercy and
      compassion, but also of the effect of His coming upon our soul.

      The pool of Bethesda was a well known place in Jerusalem. It was located
      alongside the sheep gate in the walls of the city. This is the gate
      where the lambs destined for sacrifice at the temple were brought into
      the city. The pools original purpose was as a washing place for the
      sheep. But the pool was more than just a watering hole for sheep, for it
      was discovered that an angel of the Lord would come and stir the water
      of the pool and those who were first to enter the pool at this
      disturbance of the water was healed of whatever malady he might suffer.
      As the miraculous properties of this pool spread, many of the sick and
      disabled men and women of the area began to come and wait by the pool
      for the healing visit of the angel. There was built around the pool a
      structure with 5 porches and these 5 porches were soon filled to
      overflowing with all manner of suffering men and women all waiting for
      the chance to enter the water and be healed. Here was concentrated the
      suffering of the whole nation. Around this pool the porches served as 5
      storehouses of suffering, human pain and grief and sickness. In the
      center of all this suffering was the pool which was the focus of all who
      were there. Normally the pool was calm, but every once in a while it was
      stirred up and at those time, the suffering, just for a moment eased a
      little as some were healed. But still the vast storehouse of those who
      continued to suffer remained as the waters calmed again, awaiting the
      next angelic visit.

      How like our own being this pool is. Around the outside of ourselves we
      have the 5 senses, like the 5 porches. These senses take in the world
      around us and provide us with the stage by which we interact with our
      world. We see, hear, smell, taste and touch the world around us and
      these sensations enter into our inner being and affect the state of the
      soul. At the center of the senses, receiving the impressions from them,
      lies the heart, like the pool surrounded by the 5 porches. Because of
      our sinfulness, the senses have filled with the impressions of the
      suffering world. We see the ugliness of the world and how sin has
      twisted the things of the world which originally had declared the glory
      of God, but now are used to try to deny even God’s existence. We see
      also the beauty of the world, but only inasmuch as it titillates our
      passions and tempts us to indulge our own desires. We hear the cruel
      words that men have for one another and the cursing and swearing and
      denial of God. We hear the moans and groans of the ills of the world. We
      smell the odors of corruption and decay. We taste the food which we must
      eat as a constant reminder that we do not have life in ourselves and so
      must eat to live. We feel the pains and hurt of the world around us, and
      we use our bodies to grasp at the ever more fleeting pleasures of the
      world. The 5 senses are filled to overflowing with the imresions of the
      sinfulness of the fallen world and have become, like the 5 porches,
      storehouses of that suffering.

      In the center of our senses is the pool of the heart. But that pool
      which was meant to be a fountain flowing with living water, constantly
      bringing the renewing and healing grace of God to our souls is quiet.
      Only on occasion are we moved when something from the outside moves us,
      as the angel moved the water of the pool. We temporarily inspired by
      some muse or unexpected touched by the awareness of God’s beauty or are
      stirred by some other divine intrusion into our self centered world. For
      a moment we glimpse the divine. And that moment when we are awakened to
      the presence of God, provides some relief from the suffering and from
      the oppression of sin which fills the 5 senses. But this relief is short
      lived for our heart, in its sinful and fallen state, is not capable of
      maintaining that connection to the grace of God and again the pool falls
      quiet and the suffering presses in around it.

      Now to this pool at Bethesda comes our Lord Jesus Christ and to this one
      man who had suffered there 38 years – he had come to embody all the
      suffering of all the people who crowded all the porches. He lived in the
      hope of those moments when the water stirred – the hope that each new
      stirring of the water might be the time when he would be healed. But it
      was not to be, for each time, by the time he reached the pool the
      disturbance was over and there was no healing there for him. However,
      our Lord reached out to him in compassion and mercy and by His word
      healed this man who had suffered for so long, waiting for the angel to
      come and stir the water. But now he was made whole by the coming of God
      Himself.

      When Jesus Christ comes to us, His presence is of a different quality, a
      higher quality that even those momentary glimpses of the divine that
      briefly stir the heart. His coming is not fleeting, it is permanent. He
      does not make us come to Him, instead, He comes to us. When He comes to
      us and when we begin to live in Him, drawing our life from Him, then He
      Himself changes the still pool of our heart into a fountain of living
      water not only bubbling up within us but flowing out from our hearts
      through our senses into the world. The fountain living water that Jesus
      Christ brings to us clears our senses of the suffering, ugliness and
      cruelty of the world and allows us again to see and hear and touch and
      taste and smell the glory of God which all of creation rightly
      proclaims. No longer are our senses overwhelmed with the darkness of the
      sinful world, but rather they are filled with the Light of Christ from
      within and this light enlightens the world around us. Rather than being
      the storehouse of suffering, weighed down the burdens of sin, with the
      coming of Christ we are lifted up and become a font of divine grace
      flowing out upon the world around us. The love of God, flowing through
      us, heals and changes the world where we are. Rather than being weighed
      down by the suffering of sin, we become the means by which that
      suffering is healed and creation is restored. No longer do we see the
      creation twisted to deny the existence of God, but now we see its true
      nature proclaiming the glory of God for all to see.

      Jesus Christ comes to us and heals us – but even more than this, He
      lives within us creating within our hearts a fountain of living water by
      which we are transformed and by which we also transform the world around
      us. We are healed by Christ, not temporarily or partially, but
      completely and eternally. And being healed, we become fountains of
      living water, of the transforming grace of God, of God’s compassionate
      and healing love to the whole world around us. This is the lesson of
      this miracle. We see that not only are we healed, but we become the
      means by which the world around us is healed by the grace and love of
      Jesus Christ abiding within us.

      Christ is risen and no longer are we held in the captivity and suffering
      of sin – but we are freed and we ourselves become fountains of living
      water flowing out to the world around us.

      --
      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org
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