In speaking about the liturgical contours of today’s commemoration, Fr David Petras uses St. John Chrysostom to draw our attention deeper into the mystery we are presented in the Gosepl. Chrysostom “tells us that if an unbeliever enters a church during a baptism, all he sees is people being washed. But a believer sees people being reborn in the Spirit. The unbeliever sees only with the eyes of the body, the believer sees with the inner eyes of the soul. When we are baptized all our body sees and feels is water, but by the Spirit our sins are washed away and we become children of God.”

Why Chrysostom identifies for us applies to all of the spiritual life and the sacraments of the Church. For example, when we receive Holy Communion, if we only see and taste with the eyes and mouth bread and wine but not with the eyes of the Holy Spirit we will miss on the fact of the Lord’s love, forgiveness of sins and and healing and the deepest reality of salvation. The Mystery of the bread of life is more than a social pact or a sense of social respectability. Receiving the Eucharistic Lord is communion with the God and with one another as it is the divine pledge of eternal life: new life.

The Sunday of the Paralytic Man teaches us that the water of Bethesda is meaningless if we neglect the fact the word given by Jesus is full of power and energy to transform thus identifying the presence of God. Jesus speaks the word and gives the man the strength to walk.

The water of the Bethseda pool is a type of Baptism. The waters of Baptism not only wash and make us adopted children of God. The waters of Baptism heals us spiritually and physically. One aspect of today’s Gospel is that illness is “a lesser manifestation of death. Here Jesus’s word exercises power over the man’s illness pointing our attention once again to his own power over death.

What do we learn on this 3rd Sunday after Pascha? What is the take-away lesson? First, we don’t make ourselves. Everything we have and are is given and sustained by God. Second, our identity as Christians is based not on a theory or a vague theological idea but on the person of Jesus the Christ. Third, we learn that by ourselves we cannot forgive, heal or love or be saved. Human nature can’t forgive without the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

On Wednesday, April 24, we are mid-way to Pentecost. The Gospels we read at the Divine Liturgy bring our focus of faith into greater clarity as we approach the solemn feast of Pentecost.

Christ is risen!