Homily – Sunday, the 22nd May 2022
Imagine suddenly you hear the voice that you were longing to hear. God comes by, in whatever form, and asks you- What can I do for you? What would be our answer!
Do we want what God wants for us and our lives?
Do you want to be made whole?
Do you really want a life transforming God encounter and experience?
Do we want to keep God out of the frames of our lives as several people do today?
Not easy questions
But as we install our new chaplaincy council today we need to ask this question again- what is our responsibility as a church placed in this beautiful city?
Do we only ask- what do I get if I come here? Or do we ask what can we offer to be participants in the making of God’s future.
We have now a dream situation of a Council that has representation from all six continents, where we have a Chaplaincy which is a mix of several cultures from all over the world. What lessons do we learn from today’s Gospel lesson
The Healing of the man who was by the pool in Bethesda for thirty eight years gives us some interesting insights about being a relevant church today.
The Challenge to be Sensitive to People in the Peripheries
What would Jesus do?
First we notice Jesus Reaching the portico of the pool where people in difficult situations came with a glimmer of hope. The people with visual, physical and mental challenges were all gathered looking for the stirring of the waters, hoping that their life situations would change for the better. There was a particular person who was ill for thirty years. He perhaps came to the pool every festival time hoping for healing.
Knowing that the person had suffered for too long Jesus intervenes to make a difference in the life of the person.
Jesus was not discouraged by the excuses the man had- I have no one and someone else goes before me but instead told the person to take up his bed and walk, which he did. It was a life changing intervention.
Jesus did not go by the expected norms of healing nor did he stick to the letter of the law regards the Sabath. It was a dynamic intervention to transform the life of a person
This was an intervention that did not expect anything in return. In fact the healed person is more on the side of the villians than with Jesus in the unfolding of the plot. Yet Jesus did not have any issues with the person.
Help for the Hopeless and Hope for the Helpless is the call to be the church.
Being present in the pain of the people is the call to being the church today.
The Challenge to Break Long Time Bondages despite the indifference.
Thirty Eight years is a long time in the life of a person and here at the feast he is back again near the pool hoping that at least this time he would be able to be the one who benefits from the stirring of the waters.
Three factors are worth noticing here. First, Spurgeon points out A multitude of needy people were there, yet none of them looked to Jesus. “A blindness had come over these people at the pool; there they were, and there was Christ, who could heal them, but not a single one of them sought him. Their eyes were fixed on the water, expecting it to be troubled; they were so taken up with their own chosen way that the true way was neglected.” Yes Spurgeon is relevant even today- people are longing for solutions but are unwilling to look at Christ or probe the possibilities in Christ.
Second, it is the question of making excuses or making miracles happen. The two excuses the person puts forward needs to be closely looked again. The first is- I have no one and the second is some one else who thought their need was more than mine grabbed the healing opportunity before me.
Friends the world is bewailing today- I have no one. Loneliness in most difficult patches of life is a hard reality. There are many around us who truly think there is no one.
Same is case with the “someone else” who would not consider the need of any others but only theirs. Cribbing about ‘someone else’ who stops my well being is not a helpful way of facing life’s realities.
Third, is the possibility that you no longer need to sit by the pool. Thirty eight years it would have become a habit. Hope for healing would have vanished yet the stirring at Bethsaida continued to be a focal point to look forward for them. It is this essence of hope that we need to offer to the world around us. People side waiting can end. Healing can happen. Life can be transformed. A new beginning is always possible.
The Question that We need to ask the world around is the same- what would you want God to do for you today?
Jesus keeps asking- What do you want me to do for you? Do you wish that there is a transformation in your life situation.
The Challenge to constantly redefine what Sabath
The Pharisees had robbed the essense of the Sabath when they insisted on following the letter of the law and not the spirit of the law. Jesus did not hesitate to address the question of hunger on the Sabath day as we see in
Plucking grain on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-27; Luke 6:1-5). Jesus never hesitated to heal on the Sabath day be it the Healing the man with a withered hand (Matthew 12:9-14; Like 6:6-11) or the healings of a crippled woman (Luke 13:10-17) or that of a man with dropsy (Luke 14:1-6) or the sick man we read about in John 5:1-18; 7:21-24 or of the .man born blind (John 9:1-34).
Sabath and worship experience were opportunities towards wholeness in the lives of the people. It was the space wherein the broken soul found the mending healer and found the wholeness they were longing for.
What is happening to our Sabath experiences today? What is happening to our worship experiences today?
Sabath is all about you and your God. It is all about God at work in and through you. The worship leader is just a small cog in God’s magnificient scheme of things. Sabath and worship experiences should be life affirming, it should touch the souls of people, it should comfort, it should heal, it should be the balm of Gilead healing the brokenness of communities.
Let us therefore continue to ask deep questions- what is worship, what is sabath and what is the wholeness that we need today.
This is not just the story of an unknown man who lived during the time of Jesus who was sick for thirty years. Friends it is the story of you and me and it is the story of the broken community amidst we are called to minister and serve.
The Challenge to Help Lives to Arise and Walk
Yes lives around us are stuck in ghettos and abysses and the gospel they seek is- Arise and Walk- Get going with life
Arise is a powerful call across the Bible and many around us need that hand streaching to them and saying- Arise
In Gen 19:15 The voice of the Lord came to Lot- Arise, Take your family and get off this place. Stuck in the Sodoms and Gomorahs of the present day we need someone to strongly call communities to ARISE and get going to spaces of safety not even turning back.
In Gen 21:18 Hagar is told- Arise and Take Child.The mother confronting the death of her son and crying I can no longer take this hears the voice ARISE
Gen 35:1 Jacob who is stuck in a place far away from where he ought to be to participate in the unfolding of God’s future is told- Arise Go to Bethel
Joshua 1:2 Joshua is told- Moses is no more now arise and lead. We cannot keep weeping over what is lost but we need to look at the future with new hope.
1 Sam 9:3 Kish tells his son Saul- Arise to seek the asses. It is in this seeking that he finds Samuel and is anointed king
1 Sam 16:12 Samuel is told Arise and Annoint, this is he. God does not usually work in ways we expect. The eight in line would not be what human expectation would have considered to be king but God works in mysterious ways. We need prophets to Arise
1 Kings 19:5 Elijah is told- Arise and Eat. When people cry Enough is Enough and I cannot take it any longer the strengthening presence of the Lord need to come by saying- Arise and Eat
Neh 2:18 Nehemiah calls forth Let us Arise and Rebuild. The brokenness of the wall breaks his heart and he resolves that it is his responsibility to help rebuild and he calls the community to arise and join hands
In the New Testament we consistently hear- Arise and Walk
Matt 2:13 Joseph is told- Arise, take your family and go. The escape from tyranny is what several people are seeking around us
Mark 5:41 Jesus tells the little dame- Arise Talitha Coumi.There are many Jairus’ around us staring at the stillness of their children seeking divine intervention
Luke 7:14 Jesus comes by the bier of the widows son in Nain- Arise and defeating death he comes to life. Several of the young people around us today need this call to Arise
Acts 9:11 Saul is told Arise go to Straight and Ananias is told that Saul is waiting. God works connecting people
Acts 11:2 Peter is told Arise and Eat where God redefines Peter’s notions of purity and pollution
The Call of the Church is to call people to Arise
The Call that the world need around us is- Get Up and Walk
Some people just need a small prodding but some others need a strong push indeed.
Friends, as we install our Council the call to be the church is
-to be sensitive to people in brokenness
-to be able to help break long time bondages
-to be able to constantly review Sabath experiences to keep it relevant
-to be channels of the life changing message- Arise and Walk
Jesus asks- Do you want to be made whole?
May 22, 2022