Sunday 6 May 2012

Sunday of the Paralytic

On the third Sunday of Pascha the Orthodox Church commemorates Christ's healing of the paralytic which is recounted in the Gospel of St. John (John 5:1-15). In this miracle the paralytic, who was waiting in vain for the healing that occurred at a certain season, was healed by the word of Christ - the universal Word.

In the Gospel reading we hear the paralytic say to Christ: 'I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool'. This theme is developed in the stichera of Vespers where the hymnographer uses the voice of Christ to say: "For thee I became man, for thee I am clothed in flesh and sayest thou: I have no man". This belief in Christ as God-man or Theanthropos is reinforced in every service we hear read or sung in the Orthodox Church. 

In the canon of matins, the paralysis of the man at the sheep's pool is compared to the paralysis of our souls by sin which we ask Christ to make whole so that we can walk in His ways. This theme is also repeated in the kontakion of the Sunday of the Paralytic which is read after the sixth ode in matins and sung after the Little Entrance of the Divine Liturgy.

On every Sunday of the Pentecostarion (except that of Pentecost itself) we sing the hymns of the Resurrection in the appointed tone - these are the same hymns that we hear on every Sunday of the year. There is no special dimissal hymn for the Sunday of the Paralytic, so we use the Resurrectional dismissal hymn of the third tone which begins: 'Let the heavens rejoice; let earthly things be glad.' This hymn is used even on Monday and Tuesday and it is only in the period of the Pentecostarion that we can hear these dismissal hymns being sung on weekdays.

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