Chrysostom3On John 5:6-8.

Great is the profit of the divine Scriptures, and all-sufficient is the aid which comes from them.

And Paul declared this when he said, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written aforetime for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” ( Rom. 15:4, 1 Cor. 10:11).

For the divine oracles are a treasury of all manner of medicines, so that whether it be needful to quench pride, to lull desire to sleep, to tread under foot the love of money, to despise pain, to inspire confidence, to gain patience, from them one may find abundant resource.

For what man of those who struggle with long poverty or who are nailed to a grievous disease, will not, when he reads the passage before us, receive much comfort?

Since this man who had been paralytic for thirty and eight years, and who saw each year others delivered, and himself bound by his disease, not even so fell back and despaired, though in truth not merely despondency for the past, but also hopelessness for the future, was sufficient to overwhelm him.

Hear now what he says, and learn the greatness of his tragedy. For when Christ had said, “Wilt thou be made whole?” “Yea, Lord,” he says, “but I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool.” What can be more pitiable than these words? What more sad than these circumstances?

Do you see a heart crushed through long sickness? Do you see all violence subdued? He uttered no blasphemous word, nor such as we hear the many use in reverses, he cursed not his day, he was not angry at the question, nor did he say, “Are You come to make a mock and a jest of us, that You ask whether I desire to be made whole?”

But he replied gently, and with great mildness, “Yea, Lord”; yet he knew not who it was that asked him, nor that He would heal him, but still he mildly relates all the circumstances and asks nothing further, as though he were speaking to a physician, and desired merely to tell the story of his sufferings.

Perhaps he hoped that Christ might be so far useful to him as to put him into the water, and desired to attract Him by these words. What then does Jesus say? “Rise, take up thy bed, and walk”

John Chrysostom (c.347-407): Homilies on St John’s Gospel, 37 (on John 5:6-8); [slightly adapted].

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