On May 7, on the Sunday of the Paralytic, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:
“On this Sunday, one among the Paschal season Sundays, the Church wishes us to reflect upon a miracle of healing a person who suffered from paralysis for 38 years. He was near the pool at Ship Gate in Jerusalem, famous for healing, but could not be healed because there was no one to help him enter the water of this pool. In Slavonic language this paralytic is literally called the “relaxed one”, and this holiday is called Sunday of the Paralytic, of the “relaxed man”. We should remember that in Lent we also heard the Gospel story of another paralytic – whom four people brought to Christ. And today we hear about a paralytic, which no one helped. He himself explained this to Christ when he said: “I have no man to put me into the pool” (Jn. 5, 7). Only our Lord Jesus Christ was able to heal this man.”
“This paralytic is the image of our souls. We are near the most healing font. We have a great source for our healing and for our salvation. We have the Law of God. We have the Commandments of God. We have the Holy Church. And we are close to all of it. But, as it often happens that despite all that we have, we cannot take advantage of it. We are always missing something. It is like that paralytic said: “I have no man to help me”!”
“The Holy Church tells us about this miracle, so that when we see the paralyzed, relaxed state of our souls, when we see sins overwhelming us again, we do not lose heart, but we knew that we have a Man who can save us. We have not just a man, we have Christ the God-man, who can, not just once a year, like it was at the Sheep Gate pool, manage to heal someone, but who is able to heal constantly every man who turns to Him. He saves him from death, saves from sin, heals his paralyzed soul. And He makes him able to walk again glorifying God. Look what the Lord said. He did not simply say, “I heal you”, but He said: “Arise, take up your bed and walk” (Jn. 5, 8). That means, take up those same stretchers on which you used to lay, on which you were carried, now you carry them!” Why did the Lord say so? Because now that person who was lying on these stretchers for thirty-eight years, began walking himself, and carrying those stretchers and showing it to everyone, he began to preach about the Lord, preaching about Christ the Savior in a visible way. Everyone saw how he used to lay on a stretcher, and now he himself walks and preaches about Christ.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! This is what we are often lacking. We need to preach about the Savior and our Lord Jesus Christ by our Christian life. The Lord gives us the joy of life, gives us consolation, gives us deliverance from our sins. He saves us from all evil. Therefore, we are obligated to preach about Christ, just as this healed paralytic did. And we will preach this in the best way, if we lead a pure Christian life. If we forgive each other, if we are compassionate to each other, are merciful to each other, if we strive to love one another – this will be our holy preaching. Then we could cease being spiritually paralyzed (or “relaxed”), then we will rise and begin to walk.”
“Of course, it is difficult – to start preaching about Christ with your life. On this path there will be many obstacles, because the life of a Christian in an ungodly world is always difficult. That healed paralytic just started walking, and the Jews immediately began to bother him and say: “How can you wear a stretcher on Saturday? It is forbidden”! – Indeed, the Old Testament law forbade doing anything on Saturday. We have to keep in mind that our Christian law also forbids any hard and physical labor on Sunday. But the Lord of the Sabbath, the Chief of the Law himself, the One who is above all law, is the True God and the true Savior Jesus Christ commanded this, and that man had to do it. Thus, without fearing all obstacles and temptations, let us ask the Lord to help us to overcome the paralysis or relaxation of our souls, that He will give us the grace to live in Christian way: to believe, to hope, to love, to overcome all temptations.”
“And when the Savior later met this healed man in the temple, He said to him: “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you” (Jn. 5, 14). Let us also, brothers and sisters, pray to our Savior, that He may give us strength not to return to sins, that He may give us the strength to avoid the worst that sin brings with it evil, godlessness, hatred and untruth. Let us strive to nourish our souls and souls of our loved ones with the great Paschal joy about the risen Christ, who gives life to our souls and to us, “the relaxed ones”, who makes us walk again in the ways of the Lord.”
Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in English conveying the ideas of his Russian homily.