Metropolitan Anthony Bloom †
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
We have heard today in the Gospel of a man who for thirty eight years had laid paralysed. The only thing that separated him from healing was the possibility to reach the waters, which the angel brought into motion once a year. Thirty eight years had he attempted to move towards healing but someone else has been quicker than he and stolen healing from him. How many are there now in the world, how many have been and will be in this world of ours who need healing, who are paralysed by fear, paralysed by all that prevents us from moving with boldness and purpose towards fullness of life? How many? And who are those who will take them and help them to receive healing instead of seeking it for themselves? Let us look at ourselves, not at each other but ourselves. What have we learnt from the Gospel?
Christ says that no-one has true love who is not prepared to give his life for his neighbour, and the neighbour, as it is quite clear also from the Gospel, is not the one whom we like, whom we love, who is close to us, it is whoever needs us. Ask yourself this question. There are number of people around you who would believe, who would gladly start a new life, who would bless you and God for giving them courage to move not physical but spiritual limbs that are tied. And let us ask ourselves, what do we do, what have we done, what are we capable of doing to help them? The waters of Siloam are an image of God, of His healing power. When God comes close, when we become aware that He is there, near, do we look around to see who needs Him more than we do? No. We rush forward, we want to be those who will sit at His feet, we are those who wish to touch the hem of His garment and be healed, we are those – and this is even worse, – we are those who wish to be seen as His disciples and companions so that people may look at us and wonder, admire us, at times almost worship us, the companions of Jesus, the friends of God become man. Who of us is prepared to step aside, to become inconspicuous, or rather to help another to step forward instead of us when we know that we will be the loosers in a way, – in a way only because if we do this, we will have lost what is thought we coveted but we will have become disciples of Christ who gave His life that others may live.
Let us reflect on the story. It is not simply an old story about things that happened about two thousand years ago, it is something that is happening every day and we are those who rush forward and prevent others from merging themselves into the healing waters of Siloam. Let us listen to St. John the Divine, the teacher of true love, let us be ready to sacrifice all we long for, all we desire for someone else to have it, to be given it by God, let us be prepared to pay the price of other people’s finding freedom, life on all levels, even on the simplest level of food and shelter and the warmth of an attentive gaze or a loving, sober word. Let us become free of selves, and then how many will be saved, saved from hunger, from homelessness, saved from the dominion of others, saved from all that is fetters and imprisonment of life. Let us become what Christ was – the One that sets free in the name of truth and of life. Amen.