This week, the Orthodox fraternity glorifies God by reliving Christ’s healing of the Paralytic, an account reported to us by John 5:1-15. This story is interesting and I hope God blesses us to feel it. It somehow suggests that our “comfort (sickbed) actually tends to paralyze us the more”.
Listen, the guy in there, Jesus himself saw he had been paralytic for 38 years. This word “paralysis” is used to mean a total inability to move, act, function etc. Just for perspective, I’m 36 years Old, and many people think I’m someone really coming of age in many aspects. Do you realize how much a loss this guy may have incurred over the 38 year paralyisis? The Orthodox Church has just celebrated 100 years of existence in Uganda, and look at some continuous bottlenecks which almost seem never to go away. Any paralysis?
In our daily life, we’ve heard of some vices we live with to a level of adoring them. For example, it is not uncommon for people to suggest that “someone’s adulterous, theft, jealousy, badmouthing or any character is traced from one of his / her ancestors” who may even be long dead. It means that there is a possibility for one to live with a paralysis from even before he / she was born. Do you realize then that many of us have been paralytic for more than even this man’s 38 years?
What is worse is that, like him, we many times choose to register ourselves to “Byekwaso’s clan”, not sure what that is! But just borrowing the literal meaning of the name, we always choose preparing for how to answer the why, instead of doing the unquestionable things. If you doubt this, look at how fast the Public Relations (PR) profession is gaining importance in companies. It is smartly destroying families, with husbands and wives choosing to hide behind the advocates’ “convincing” excuses. Even governments are paying exorbitant fees to ensure PR personnel’s keep absolving them of the dirt rather than avoiding it altogether. Of course this is traced in humanity right from the Genesis story of Adam, Eve and the serpent. All of them excused themselves (Gen. 3:9-13). No apology. So our representatives’ 20M COVID money story should not dampen us so much, but rather force us be reminded of our God-intended purpose of life. We must remember that the repercussions of Adam & Eve’s remorseless actions have outlived generations, forcing many of us to just accept them.
The question from Jesus was, and is: “Do you want to get healed?” John 5:6. He has asked this question for a long, long time, and surely His continued patience with us proves how gracious He is. Because, like the paralytic, we often choose to comfortably lay in our bed suggesting that no one is helping us. “I’d have got married, built a house, begotten a child, I would’ve been faithful to my wife / husband but ….”, And usually those ellipses are filled by a failure of someone to help. Many traditional families are breaking to pieces because the one who is worse off feels those better off are too selfish to help. Even in churches, some are stuck because someone elsewhere is no longer able to lend a hand. If true say “Amen”.
Then Christ passionately orders, “arise, take your bed and walk”. Surprisingly, without this guy even asking Him or calling anybody to help, he rises and walks. Jesus even finds no need of first dipping this man into the waters. He certainly saw his man was comfortably sleeping, which made him too weak to try his body carry him.
1. The people you are looking up to for help, are not exactly the solution, God is. They may even have ever helped you, but their help will never be sustainable if you remain sleeping.
2. You have set all your focus on the “Bathsaida” (some source of healing), to save you even from this COVID-19 scourge, but God has the powers to heal you without having you going into those waters. Some simple tools, very simple like the ordinary sickbeds rather than the complicated Intensive Care beds, have been given to us. Wash your hands, social distance, be careful dealing with your general hygiene, but above all be resilient. If you are waiting the complicated drugs and ICUs, then when will we ever reach America, Italy & German’s level, God is telling us something.
3. If the 38-year paralytic had a sickbed, then everyone has one. These are the resources you have. However little they are, economists have told us “resources are always scarce” – never enough. It may be brains, wife, husband, land, money, home, food, children, beauty, talking, reasoning etc.
4. But be careful for your sick-bed not to paralyze you the more. We shouldn’t glue ourselves to the sickbed because this makes us too comfortable to try move by ourselves. Yet this story proves we can move. We actually need to Arise, gather the little we have and actively express our ability, and make good use of it for better.
Finally, the story guarantees that we shall walk, get better. But something very important, we should not run away from God after success. Many of us, when we walk, our achievements become our sole focus, sideling God to level where He almost feels He has to beg us to come Him. We feel it is a favor to serve, praise and glorify Him. We find ourselves again very comfortable with our acquaintances which paralysis our spiritual being. Verse 15 tells us where He cherishes finding us, what advice He keeps delivering to us from there.
May this be another start for us all.
Christ is risen.
The article was written by: Rev. Fr. Joseph Mutokya (Parish priest St. Luke Orthodox Church, Kabonge, Luweero District)