John 約翰福音 5:1-15
Miracles and Helping Others 神蹟與助人（中英文）
2013.5. 26 Sermon by Father Jonah
出家的僧侶雖然獨居，但是他們並不孤獨。僧侶儘管遠離了人群，他們的心卻在祈禱中與所有人同在。他們總是在為別人祈禱，這就是為什麼我決定成為一名出家僧侶。這位癱瘓的病人，將自己封閉在孤獨、絕望之中，就像是Gabriel Garcia Marquez的文學著作《百年孤寂》（One Hundred Years of Solitude）中描述的景象。耶穌將他從孤獨中解救出來，並且用命令式的口氣對他說：「起來，拿你的褥子走吧！」那人立刻就痊癒了。耶穌要他拿起睡覺用的墊子趕快離去。為什麼耶穌要他拿起褥子呢？讓我們想像一下，病患康復、出院的時候，並不會把醫院的病床或被褥帶回家。這個被褥象徵著他三十八年來的牢獄，耶穌讓自由之流衝破這個牢獄。耶穌治癒一個人的病，也治癒他過去所有傷痛。三十八年的歲月並沒有白費，因為耶穌基督賜下的恩典，豐富了它的價值。它瞬間成為寶貴的經驗，也成為一個活教材。當我們悔改時，耶穌在我們心中作用，我們過去的生命瞬間充滿了偉大的價值。一切都不會白費。
John 1:5 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” 7 The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” 9 And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. 10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.” 11 He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’” 12 Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” 15 The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
Just to say a few things about the gospel today. Here we see this miracle of Jesus Christ for a man who had been paralyzed for 38 years, which means an entire lifetime. It was in a place near the city gate of Jerusalem called the Sheep Gate, where they brought the sheep to be sacrificed at the temple, which is why it had this name. There a miracle happened every year, in which an angel came and stirred the water of a pool, and the first person who entered the pool would be cured of his illness. First of all, we see here something that many of our Christian brothers, especially Protestants, have forgotten, that there are holy places. It is the place, but it is also the angel who came and blessed the water so that someone who entered could become well. So we must understand that the Grace of God works by many different ways. It is God who is working through his energies in places, and by any way. This is why we have holy places, not only in Jerusalem, but also where there are appearances of God or of the Holy Mother, other Saints, or Holy Martyrs or other people who died there giving their blood for Jesus Christ.
But this poor person, he obviously was so miserable. Jesus Christ went there and there were so many people there who were paralyzed on with other diseases and He found this man. He did not ask the man if he believed in Him or accepted him. He asked him only one question, “Do you want to be well, to be healed?” Somebody could ask, what kind of a question is this, is there any sick person who does not want to become well? But actually, if you understand psychology, many times sickness is a solution, not a good solution of course. With most of the psychological diseases, the biggest problem is that the person does not want to be healed, he sticks to his sickness, and even if he pays money to a doctor, he does not really want to be cured.
And there is another reason, which we can see from the answer of the paralyzed person. His answer was so miserable, it really touches your heart. He did not say whether he wanted to be cured or not; he said, “I don’t have anybody, so when the angel comes and the water is moving I don’t have anybody to help me and somebody else jumps in before me. I don’t have anybody.” He was living and he had accepted the loneliness. And I say, and I understand all of us when we say, “I don’t have anybody. I don’t have anybody to say a good word for me, to open a door for me, to give me a chance in life that others have because they know people who can help them.” This person had accepted that, and he had surrendered to the loneliness.
But He who is closer than ourselves, he came to the most lonely of the lonely there. That person did not call Jesus Christ, but Jesus came to his loneliness. And we must remember that in our ultimate solitude, the more we are in solitude, somebody is so close to us and we must see Him and accept Him, and this person is Jesus Christ. On the Cross, he said, “Father, why did you abandon me?” He is the closest to all those who are abandoned by everybody. So, we must know that the more we are abandoned, the more Jesus is there. He is only asking, “Do you want me?”
This loneliness is, I think, one of the most terrible things in the human condition. Hell is loneliness, and many people are getting married, not because they really love one another, but because they are afraid of getting old and dying alone. (This type of marriage is not necessarily bad because God said that in Paradise it is not good for human beings to be alone.) But we must understand that we can be with others and still be alone because we lack the ability to create relationships. We must ask ourselves, this is not something that we say, “Oh, nobody is coming to me nobody is caring for me.” It is what we care for: if we start caring for others, then relationships will come. This person did not complain, that the others were bad and had abandoned him, he did not say this. But psychologically he was almost a dead person.
We must understand the meaning of life. Many people say, “What is the meaning of my life?” I wake up in the morning, eat, go to my job, come back and eat and sleep: every day the same until death comes.” But we must understand that we give the meaning to life. It is not to question what is the meaning of life, but I give meaning to my life. I can choose not to live in my loneliness, not to say, “Why don’t you believe me? Why didn’t you call me? Why didn’t you do anything for me?” But I choose to come to you and to listen to your pain and to try to help you a little bit by my words by my prayers, and to care. When I do this, I break the shell like a bird breaks the egg shell so he can come out and fly. Be careful, you young people here, don’t wait for the others, you go to the others. When I lived in a family, though my mother has now passed away, I used to accuse her that she never went out and she had no friends and she was saying how she was alone. She was alone because she was not going to create relationships.
So we must understand something: for example a monk lives alone, but he is not alone. What is the definition of the monk: he who is separated from everybody and at the same time he is united with everybody by his prayers. He becomes a monk to pray for others: that is why he becomes a monk. So this paralyzed person, who was enclosed in his solitude, in his despair, maybe like Marquez in One Hundred Years of Solitude describes with literature. Jesus liberated him. And Jesus said to him, he ordered him to take this pallet – something like a mattress that he had to sleep on – take it and walk, leave, go home. Why did Jesus tell him to take it? If you are sick in the hospital, you don’t take your bed with you if you leave. But this mattress was his prison for 38 years, and when Jesus cures, He cures our past also. So his prison now became like a flood of his freedom. Those 38 years were not lost years, by the Grace of Jesus Christ; they were years that suddenly became experience, became teaching for others, like a flood, I say come here I can also teach you, it has a meaning. When we repent and when Jesus is working in us, all of our past takes value, a very great value. Nothing is wasted.
But bad people always misunderstand. Jesus did the miracle and then disappeared from there at once. He did not want praise and for people to say, “Thank you. You do miracles.” It was the opposite of what many people do today. The bad people, the Pharisees, those who did not care about the reality, but tried to find mistakes, they try to find the mistake at once: It was Saturday, and the man was carrying a mattress. So instead of glorifying God and saying, “What a great miracle happened. Thank you God, our brother is healthy,” which would be the normal reaction; instead, since they could not punish him because they knew it would be excessive to punish Him, so they just said the man should not be doing this, should not be working on Saturdays.
But this person who had been paralyzed, was not a careful person and he said, “He who cured me told me to do this.” The Pharisees asked him who had told him to carry the mattress, they did not ask him who cured him. I say this because many times there are so many miracles that happen in our lives and we don’t pay attention to these miracles. The biggest miracle today is that we made God to become this bread and wine, and then we ate it. What more could you want than this? I say this to you so we can understand that we must pay attention to the miracle, and not to say that the miracle has some aspects that were not so good, maybe that I wanted money and I did not want the Communion. But this person who had been cured did not know Jesus Christ.
Then, another day he went to the Temple to pray and Jesus came to him because when Jesus starts something, he completes it, He does not leave it halfway. Jesus wanted to give him spiritual help, so he could be completely cured. So Jesus told him to be careful now, do not sin again because maybe something worse will happen to you. This shows that the person continued to sin, though we do not know what kind of sin. But Jesus told the man that something worse could happen to him, which means that his disease was because of some sins.
Many people ask me why somebody is sick or disabled or has something bad happen to him. The Buddhists have an easy explanation: you suffer because in a previous life you were bad and so now you pay. Of course, this explanation is very simple, even simplistic, because there are many other reasons that someone can suffer. For example, maybe God wants to train you, and to make you stronger through these difficulties. Maybe God is giving you a disease to protect you from doing something even worse. We cannot give such a simple reason since it is different in every case.
In the Book of Job the big problem is why do good people suffer. At the end, when God appears to Job, He does not give him a specific answer to the question why such a good person has suffered. But Job is satisfied because the answer is not a sentence, this because of that, as in mathematics. The answer was in the presence of God to Job and talking like friends. When Jesus says “I am the truth,” We have some expectations for what truth is like, some equation, some logic like the world is hearing these questions. But Jesus is saying that the truth is a person, not an equation, not a sentence. The important thing is not to know why something is happening to us, but what to do under these circumstances, to help others even if we are sick ourselves.
But from all the commentaries that I researched, it seems this person was not really completely cured in his soul because later he went to the Pharisees and said, “Jesus is the one who made me well.” From one point of view somebody could say that the man was praising Jesus. But in the next paragraph of the Gospel after the ones that I read today, it says that from this day on the Pharisees said they knew who it was who was teaching others not to keep the Sabbath, and they were searching to find Jesus. So it is not like the blind person that we will see two weeks from now, who quarreled with the Pharisees, suffered and was punished because he said, “No, Jesus is good.”
So for this is for all of us, to remind us to be careful when we receive the Grace of God, how to use it and how to keep the Grace of God, giving it to the others because nothing is for sure. Love the others and this is the way of life and the cure for loneliness. May the Holy Trinity protect all of us. Amen