Feast of St Kyriake the Great Martyr
HAVING lately come across the incident of the paralytic who lay upon his bed beside the pool, we discovered a rich and large treasure, not by delving in the ground, but by diving into his heart: we found a treasure not containing silver and gold and precious stones, but endurance, and philosophy, and patience and much hope towards God, which is more valuable than any kind of jewel or source of wealth. [. . .]
This wealth we found in great abundance stored in the soul of the paralytic. And you are witnesses who with great zeal drew up draughts of this treasure yet without exhausting it. For such is the nature of spiritual wealth; it resembles fountains of water, or rather exceeds their plenteousness, being most abundant when it has many to draw upon it. For when it enters into any man’s soul it is not divided, nor diminished, but coming in its entireness to each remains continually unconsumed, being incapable of ever failing: which was just what took place at that time. For although so many have applied to the treasure, and all are drawing upon it as much as they can—but why do I speak of you, seeing that it has made countless persons rich from that time to the present day, and yet abides in its original perfection? Let us not then grow weary in having recourse to this source of spiritual wealth: but as far as possible let us now also draw forth draughts from it, and let us gaze upon our merciful Lord, gaze upon His patient servant. He had been thirty and eight years struggling with an incurable infirmity and was perpetually plagued by it, yet he did not repine, he did not utter a blasphemous word, he did not accuse his Maker, but endured his calamity bravely and with much meekness. And whence is this manifest? You say: for Scripture has not told us anything clearly concerning his former life, but only that he had been thirty-eight years in his infirmity; it has not added a word to prove that he did not show discontent, or anger or petulance.
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And yet it has made this plain also, if any one will pay careful attention to it, not looking at it curiously and carelessly. For when you hear that on the approach of Christ who was a stranger to him, and regarded merely as a man, he spoke to Him with such great meekness, you may be able to perceive his former wisdom. For when Jesus said to him “Wilt thou be made whole?” he did not make the natural reply “thou seest me who have been this long time lying sick of the palsy, and dost thou ask me if I wish to be made whole? Hast thou come to insult my distress, to reproach me and laugh me to scorn and make a mock of my calamity? He did not say or conceive anything of this kind but meekly replied, “Yea Lord.” Now if after thirty-eight years he was thus meek and gentle, when all the vigor and strength of his reasoning faculties was broken down, consider what he is likely to have been at the outset of his trouble. For be assured that invalids are not so hard to please at the beginning of their disorder, as they are after a long lapse of time: they become most intractable, most intolerable to all, when the malady is prolonged. But as he, after so many years, was so wise, and replied with so much forbearance, it is quite clear that during the previous time also he had been bearing that calamity with much thankfulness.
Considering these things then, let us imitate the patience of our fellow-servant. For his paralysis is sufficient to brace up our souls. For no one can be so supine and indolent after having observed the magnitude of that calamity as not to endure bravely all evils which may befall him, even if they are more intolerable than all that were ever known. For not only his soundness but also his sickness has become a cause of the greatest benefit to us: for his cure has stimulated the souls of the hearers to speak the praise of the Lord, and his sickness and infirmity has encouraged you to patience, and urged you to match his zeal; or rather it has exhibited to you the loving kindness of God. For the actual deliverance of the man to such a malady, and the protracted duration of his infirmity is a sign of the greatest care for his welfare. For as a gold refiner having cast a piece of gold into the furnace suffers it to be proved by the fire until such time as sees it has become purer, even so God permits the souls of men to be tested by troubles until they become pure and transparent and have reaped much profit from this process of sifting. Wherefore this is the greatest species of benefit.
—St John Chrysostom, Homily on the Paralytic Let Down through the Roof