by Fr. Sergei Bulgakov
Our father in the faith, Fr. Sergius was a priest of the Church of Russia in the early twentieth century. He was noted as an Orthodox theologian, philosopher, and economist. After an early interest in Marxism, he returned to his religious roots in Orthodox Christianity. He wrote extensively, and after being exiled by the new Communist government of Russia, he became part of the community of Russians in Paris, taking part in the founding the of St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris.
On this Sunday the most wonderful healing of the paralytic by the Sheep’s Pool, who for 38 years languished in severe illness is glorified.
According to the explanation of the Synaxarion, this miracle is celebrated on this Sunday because Christ did it during the Jewish Pentecost. In the healing of the paralytic the Holy Church sees the paradigm of the renewal of life of all humanity through the resurrection of Christ.
“Christ”, she sings in the hymns of this day, “the first-born of creation, and the Creator of all things that have come into being, is risen from the dead as the first-fruits of them that slept. He renewed in Himself the corrupted nature of our race.”
“On this day is death despoiled and Hades brought to naught. And the race of men is vested in incorruption. We therefore cry to Thee with thanksgiving: glory, O Christ, to Thy arising”.
Together with this the Holy Church, reminding us about the paralysis of our souls through sin, calls each of us to appeal:
“O Most Gracious One, heal my soul which has been ailing for many years, as Thou healed the paralytic before, that I may follow Thy way, which Thou hast shown to those who love Thee”;
“As Thou raised up the paralytic, O Christ, so also make whole my soul which is paralyzed by transgressions, and help me to walk in Thine upright ways”.
As the miracle remembered now was accomplished by the Savior at the Sheep’s Pool, in which for the healing of sufferings, “an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons and troubled the water” in some troparia of the canon he is glorified as the Holy Archistrategus Michael.
Praising him as the “chief of angels”, “leader” of the “highest ministers”, the Holy Church hymns him as the “guide for the erring”
and, in view of our spiritual paralysis, prayerfully appeals to him:
“pray for our enlightenment”,
“pacify our life, which is ever troubled by the assaults of the serpent and by the circumstances of an ever unstable life”,
“with us pray for the deliverance of our sins and correction of our way of life”,
“the enjoyment of eternal blessings”.