Healings

Paralytic near the gate of the sheep

The pool is close to the Temple and is a place of tradition because, it was said, its waters were moved by an Angel who came down from heaven and, when they moved, whoever plunged into it was cured of every disease.

Gospel - John [5,1-9]

After these events there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem, near the Sheep Gate, there is a pool, called Bethesda in Hebrew, with five porticos. Under these arcades lay a crowd of sick, blind, lame and paralyzed, waiting for the water to move. In fact, an angel went down from time to time into the pool and stirred the water: the first who ran to immerse himself, when the water was stirred, recovered from any disease, whatever it was. There was a man there who had been sick for 38 years. Jesus, seeing him lying down and knowing that he had been in that condition for a long time, said to him: "Do you want to get well?". The sick man replied: "Lord, I have no one who, when the water is stirred, immerses me in the pool: while I try to get there, another dives in it before me". Jesus said to him, "Get up, take your stretcher and walk". The man was healed instantly; he took his stretcher and started walking. But that day was a Saturday. So the Jews said to the man that he had been healed: "It is Saturday and it is not lawful to carry your stretcher". But he answered them, "He who healed me said to me: Take your stretcher and walk".

Then they asked him: "Who is the man who said to you: "Take your stretcher and walk? "But the one who had been healed did not know who he was; in fact, Jesus had gone away because there was a crowd in that place. Later Jesus found him in the temple and said to him: "Behold: you are cured! Sin no more, so that no worse happens to you. The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who healed him. That is why the Jews persecuted Jesus, because he did such things on the Sabbath. But Jesus said to them: "My Father acts even now and I also act". For this reason the Jews tried even more to kill him, because not only he healed on the Sabbath, but he called God his Father, making himself equal to God. .

Exegesis - John [5,1-9]

It was a feast day for the Jews. It is not specified which feast, but it is said that it was Saturday, that is the "feast of the rest": for the Jews, in consideration of the fact that on the seventh day of Creation God stopped to "rest", the Shabat (literally means "quitting" is the day when abstaining from any work, healing, study and similar actions must be strictly observed. Jesus therefore goes up that day to Jerusalem where, near the sheep's gate, there is a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, which in the local language means "House of Mercy".

The pool is close to the Temple and is a place of tradition because, it was said, its waters were moved by an Angel who came down from heaven and, when they moved, whoever plunged into it was cured of every disease. It was a sign by which the Jewish tradition held that God was still present and active, through the movement of the waters and the healings that took place at that pool. John describes to us that, despite there being a large crowd of sick, blind, lame and paralytic, Jesus heals only one man, that particular sick person for thirty-eight years, taking the initiative because he wants to leave a sign of God's presence. This episode recalls Matthew's parable of the lost sheep: "If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, won't he leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go to look for the one that's lost?".
(Mt 18,12).

In short, the lost sheep represents the fatigue of those who seek God and encounter numerous obstacles that prevent them from finding him. John's passage describes the fatigue of this paralytic who desires with all his strength to immerse himself in the waters of the pool but who, when asked by Jesus about his will to heal, replies: "Lord, I have no one who, when he agitates 'water, immerse me in the pool: while I try to get there, another dives into it before me". John tells us about the interior attitude of this man, who is eager to immerse himself, that is to meet God, however his condition is an obstacle, others precede him and do not allow him to meet him. He lives this drama of not crowning his desire to encounter God.

"Jesus said to him", Get up, take your stretcher and walk. "The man was healed instantly; he took his stretcher and began to walk". What amazement this man must have felt when he was told "get up, take your stretcher and walk"; he must have thought: how do I get up if I haven't been able to walk for thirty-eight years? However John says that instantly the man was healed and began to walk. An incredible strength, an extraordinary vigor leads this man to believe in that word, despite the reluctance of his human reason. It is the power of the word of Jesus, that is, of the Father. This sick person does not yet know Jesus, but in that instant he receives the answer to his frantic search for God; and then he believes in that word, and he gets up and goes.

When he found Jesus in the temple, he said to him: "Behold: you are cured! Do not sin anymore, so that no worse happens to you". Maybe that man was a sinner, but he had been sick for thirty-eight years: hard to believe; perhaps that man had been imprisoned in his infirmity by demonic force, like that bent woman, for eighteen years prey to a spirit that kept her sick: Jesus saw her, called her and healed her (Lk 13: 10-13). Even in that case, the miracle took place in the synagogue on Saturday: as soon as he saw her, Jesus took the initiative and freed her from slavery.

Sin is inherent in the diabolical presence that wants to imprison man, and this paralytic was sick precisely because he was crushed by the action of satan; now Jesus, in that invitation not to sin, exhorts him to be vigilant, so as not to be estranged from God. John reveals here the great messianic sign of this extraordinary healing: Jesus overcomes every diabolical force, freeing us from every infirmity. Then that man went to tell the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him, because he had understood.

When we walk towards God, we cannot yet know him, just as that sick person in Jerusalem did not yet know Jesus; he had not even found him in the crowd immediately after his recovery, because Jesus, in order not to be seen, had immediately disappeared. He then sees him again in the temple and only here does he recognize Jesus as the author of his healing: he runs to announce who he had seen, revealing to the Jews that it was Jesus who healed him. That announcement infuriates them because they believe that he worked against the Law, not observing the Sabbath; "My Father acts even now and I also act": He thus proclaims his salvation, respectful of the Father's will.

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