We have heard today the story of a man who for 38 years lay paralised waiting of the waters to boil which had the power to heal the sick. And for 38 years he was unable to plunge himself in these waters because he was too slow to reach them. Others reached them first, others pushed him out of the way and he found no-one who took compassion of him and helped him to receive healing. How tragic – 38 years he met no-one who took compassion of him. He probably fought in the hope of being healed. He was not yet mature to accept his illness as a definitive, tragic condition.
In the lives of saints we know the story of a Russian peasant of the XIX century who also was paralised for almost 40 years but he believed in Christ unreservedly. He lay in deep serenity, in suffering indeed but in pece of heart and peace of mind and he was a light to the whole village through his patience, through his openness, his gratitude to those who looked after him. His illness, however tragic, was a salvation of many around him and his own. But it is not everyone who can face illness or suffering, or bereavement, or tragedy, or the fear of death like this. And often people come to me and say, “I am carrying a heavy burden of suffering and I pray to God first for salvation of man (?) there is no reply. And then I tried to say, “Lord, Thy will be done,” and I can’t do it. I haven’t got the strength, I haven’t got the faith.” And I advice them then to remember what happened on the Mount of Olives in the garden of Gethsemane when Christ the Son of God and the Son of man was facing the coming of his death. For each of us death is tragic but somehow it is natural, we are all mortal. Christ even in his humanity was immortal because a humanity at one with divinity, with life itself could not die otherwise than by choosing to take upon itself the mortality of man, share our mortality, share our death and through this sharing to save us from eternal death.
But Christ himself stood face to face with a death that was more monstrous than ours because he was at one with God and he could not die otherwise than by accepting to be at one with us and for a moment to lose God and to accept to die as we all die. And he prayed. But He did at once in his human frailty find the strength to say, “Thy will be done, o Father.” He prayed the first time and said, “If this cup may pass Me by, let it pass Me by.” And then he went to his disciples in the hope of being supported and they were asleep, not only tired but too depressed, too miserable to remain awake and he went death into a new measure of loneliness and he prayed again but not the same words. He said, “Father, if this cup must be drank (?) by Me, let it happen.” It was partly surrender and then He went again to his disciples, and again they threw him back into the utter loneliness that was his, they were still asleep. And then only after these hours of struggle did he find in his humanity the courage to say, “Thy will be done.”
We must learn from this because we try too often to ask from ourselves more than we can do. We hope that we can in all circumstances when terror holds us, pain breaks us we expect to be able to say, “Thy will be done,” and that it will then be all easy and simple. It is neither easy, nor simple, nor immediate. We must learn from Christ that there are times when we must stand before God and say, “O save me from this fear, save me from this horror.” And then mature, struggle and turn to God again and say, “If I must go through it, let it happen,” and again struggle looking for trust in God within us until we can say, “Thy will be done.” And then the will of God will be done, it will be either our healing or it will be something greater than our healing, than our apparent material salvation. It will be a moment when we share with Christ and when we will hear the Lord say, “Carry this cross, save others as this peasant in a village saved all those who lived with him.” Amen
The blessing of the Lord be upon you for his grace and love towards mankind always, now and forever and world without end.