St John Chrysostom: Has Sanctified Water Cured the Ailments of Your Soul?

Feast of the 45 Holy Martyrs of Nikopolis

John_Chrysostom_Square_2.jpgTHE JEWS celebrated three feasts. The first was the feast of the Passover, in the month of March, in remembrance of their deliverance and exodus from Egypt and their crossing of the Red Sea. The second was the feast of Pentecost, in the month of April, in commemoration of the giving of the Law, and their deliverance from the trials of the wilderness, their entry into the Promised Land and their eating of its first fruits. The third feast which they celebrated was the erection of booths in the month of September, in thanksgiving for the harvest of the fruits of seven months; they would set up booths or tents, and going about their fields they would harvest their crops and fill their storerooms. In these booths they rejoiced and made merry, still mindful of their life in the wilderness; forty years they had lived there, dwelling in tents, and God provided for them in many and divers ways. It was on the feast of Pentecost that Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He did so in order that He might not appear to be opposed to the Law; He was seen keeping the feast together with everyone else. Also, He wished to draw many people, or rather a multitude of sincere people, by His signs and His teaching. On the feast it was customary for all to gather together—those who lived in the cities, in the villages and in the country, along with workers and craftsmen; at other times all were busy with their work.

The pool was called the sheep pool because sheep set aside for sacrifice would be assembled there, and their innards were washed there. An angel would come to this water as to a special place and would perform miracles there. Thus did God, in His wisdom, prepare the way for the Jews, leading them along the long road to faith in Christ. He gave them the water of purification from defilement, and He also gave them the miracles of this pool, in order to lead them to accept baptism. Thus, an angel would come down at certain times and stir up the water, giving it the power to heal. The water did not heal naturally, in and of itself; otherwise, healings were performed by the mediation of an angel. Likewise, the water of our holy baptism is ordinary water, but when it has received sanctification and spiritual gifts through the invocation of God and the prayers of the priest, it cures all the ailments of our souls. At that time, infirmity hindered many from receiving healing of their illnesses, but now there is nothing to keep us from being baptized. No longer does one man receive healing while others remain unhealed; rather, even if the whole world were to assemble, grace would not run out. It is present in abundance and remains inexhaustible; though poured out, it abounds, and though ever-expended, it is never spent.

—St John Chrysostom, The Gospel Commentary: An Instruction on the Sunday of the Paralytic

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