Weekly Resources, Activities, Lessons and Crafts

May 10, 2020

Mother's Day

Sunday of the Paralytic

Below, you’ll find a variety of discussion questions, activities, lessons, and crafts arranged by general age groups:

Start your study by reading the Gospel for Sunday’s Divine Liturgy: John 5:1–15

At that time, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda which has five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and troubled the water; whoever stepped in first after the troubling of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, "Do you want to be healed?" The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me." Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your pallet, and walk." And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked.

Now that day was the sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, "It is the sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet." But he answered them, "The man who healed me said to me, 'Take up your pallet, and walk.' "They asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, 'Take up your pallet, and walk'?" Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you." The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.

Discussion Questions, Activities, Lessons, and Crafts

For the entire family

Tips for using music at home:

For children of all ages

Lesson and craft: “Sunday of the Paralytic,” from Let Us Live Orthodoxy, Volume 3 by Fr. Dean and Pres. Georget Photos


Story & activity: Healing the Paralytic Re-enactment

  • Have children wait in their rooms while you set up. Place a blue blanket or cloth on the floor for the “pool.” Put an old, broken stuffed toy or doll on a pillow “pallet” next to you, to represent the paralyzed man.
  • Call children from their rooms and ask them to each bring a stuffed toy or a doll. Have each child sit with their toy around the pool.
  • Read the first part of the Gospel, up until it introduces the paralyzed man. Shake the “water” and have the children pick up their toys and put them in the water. The first toy to touch the water is “healed”; the rest have to sit back down and wait for the angel to trouble the water again.
  • Continue reading & acting out the Gospel, conducting the conversation between Jesus, the paralyzed man (old, broken toy), and the Jews. Make sure the healed toy picks up his pallet and walks away.
  • Ask the children what should happen to the people (toys) that haven’t been healed yet? (Ask Jesus to heal them too, wait for the angel to come again, etc.)
  • Wrap up by reminding children that there are two parts of this story: Remembering that Jesus healed the paralyzed man is the easy part, but Jesus also told him to “go and sin no more,” to live the rest of his life in a good way.
  • And now all of the healed toys need to “go and sin no more,” in this case, by being put away neatly.

Coloring sheet: Healing of the Paralytic by Fr. John Matusiak

Elementary school

Discussion questions for Gospel reading:

  • Why did sick people sit by the pool? (They wanted to be healed)
  • How many years had the one man been sick for? (38 years)
  • What did Jesus say to the paralytic when he healed him? (“Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.”)
  • Did the paralytic share the news of being healed with anyone? (Yes!)

Craft & activity: Digital get well & greeting cards

  • We often want to visit people who are sick or lonely, to help them and cheer them up. In our world right now, that’s not often possible. How can we help others in need of healing?
  • Here’s a story of a family that found a way: “Surgeon’s kids’ digitized cards spread hope during COVID-19 pandemic” by Cynthia Demarco.
  • Although it would be wonderful to know a nurse or doctor who has time to do a project like this, think of ways you can send cards to people you know who are either ill, or saying safe at home and might be lonely, or who are working very hard in essential jobs.
  • Ask your parish priest for suggestions and contact information.

Middle school

Discussion questions for Gospel reading:

  • Who was lying near the pool? (A number of invalids who were blind, lame, and paralyzed)
  • How many years had the one man been sick for? (38 years)
  • Why hadn’t he been healed by the water before? (He had no one to put him in the pool)
  • What did Jesus say to the paralytic when he healed him? (“Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.”)
  • Why did the Jews disapprove? (Because it was the Sabbath and the man was carrying his pallet)

Craft & activity: Digital get well & greeting cards (see above, in elementary section)

Action item for the week:

  • The gospel focuses on the paralytic receiving Jesus’s help. This week, in honor of Mother’s Day, take on one additional daily chore to help your mother and show your appreciation for everything she does: clean up after dinner every night, assist with a younger sibling’s chores or homework, or simply ask how you can best help!

High school

Discussion questions for Gospel reading:

  • Who was lying near the pool? (A number of invalids who were blind, lame, and paralyzed)
  • How did the pool heal people? (An angel of the Lord would come down at certain times and “trouble the waters”)
  • Why hadn’t the man, who had been sick for 38 years, been healed by the water before? (He had no one to put him in the pool)
  • What did Jesus say to the paralytic when he healed him? (“Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.”)
  • Why did the Jews disapprove? (Because it was the Sabbath and the man was carrying his pallet)
  • What do you think Jesus would mean, if he told you to get up and walk, today? (various answers)

Journal topic:

  • The Paralytic man was so close to the pool where he could be healed, but never was able to reach it on his own. He found healing in another way, when he called on Christ to help him. Have you ever had all of the tools to do something, but felt that you were unable to complete the last step? Did you reach out to someone to help you?

Action item for the week:

  • In honor of Mother’s Day, look around your house – are there any stalled projects or small maintenance needs that need just one more step to complete? Come up with a few ideas and ask your mom if you can finish the work.

Young adult

Bible study: Sunday of the Paralytic: Gospel, Epistle, and Mid-Pentecost

Video Bible study & chat: “Sunday of the Paralytic” from Y2AM’s 3 Men & a Bible

  • Join Fr. Panagiotis Boznos, Nick Lionas, and Steve Christoforou for their new weekly video Bible study & chat.
  • And join the guys live on Zoom every Thursday at 4 pm Eastern here: y2am.org/3MenAndABible

Video: Be the Bee #23: “What About Our Bodies?” 

  • In this episode, Steve discusses the importance of not just our souls, but our bodies as well.

Video discussion questions:

  • What does “soul” mean? (Life, from the Hebrew)
  • How does that change your way of understanding the idea?
  • When you hear the idea that we are body and soul, what comes to mind?
  • What are ways Jesus showed his concerns for the health and well-being of people? (Fed them, healed them)
  • Name some examples of how the Church today cares for people’s bodies and souls.
  • How do you care for your body and soul as an Orthodox Christian?


Exploring the Iconography of the Paschal Season

The Gospel reading for this Sunday is John 5:1–15

This miracle occurs during the public ministry of Jesus. It is not a resurrection story. Because the miracle occurs at a pool of water, known for healing, we may infer that this Gospel lesson is placed where it is for us to consider the relationship between the water of baptism and the healing and forgiveness of sins.

An interesting feature of this story is that the healing does not involve the water itself. Christ heals the man. The paralytic does not have to go into the water to be restored. This should be seen as combatting any superstitions about the waters of baptism. Physical healing includes healing through faith. Ultimately, what heals is faith in Christ. Christ has transformed the waters of baptism through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus ties the healing to sin. Baptism offers forgiveness of sins by joining us to Christ (read Romans 6:1–14, the Epistle lesson for the Sacrament of Baptism). In the sacrament, as the person emerges from the water, we sing, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32).

The paralytic, now made well, becomes an evangelist for Christ. The man tells others that it was Christ who made him well. Just after the Gospel lesson, in John 5:17, Christ says, “My Father is still working.” This reminds us that God never really stops.

Artistic Points: Icon for the Sunday of the Paralytic

In the icon, look for the columns in the background. These are the porticoes surrounding this famous pool, as described in the Gospel account. The location of the miracle is a pool in Jerusalem named Bethesda. In Hebrew or Aramaic, the place is Beth-Zatha or Beth-Saida. The site—near the Sheep Gate—is known archeologically, having been discovered in the nineteenth century. This confirmed that the author of the Gospel of John knew Jerusalem. One source says that animals being prepared for sacrifice were washed in this pool. This was also why people looked for bodily healing there when the waters were stirred.

The icon shows the man carrying his bed, indicating that the icon depicts what happened after the healing. The healing becomes a moment of conflict because the paralytic was seen carrying an object outside his home, which was forbidden on the Sabbath. The argument about his healing is not the main issue. Jewish practice allowed for—even required—the healing of life-threatening illnesses on the Sabbath. Chronic illnesses could wait until another time.

Discussion questions

  • In most places, we have had to persevere for more than forty days with our physical and social distancing. How do you describe the perseverance of the paralytic for thirty-eight years?
  • How do you connect sin and illness?
  • How do you understand the phrase we hear in many sacraments, “for the remission of sins”?
  • The quarrel with the man healed centered around his breaking the rules of the Sabbath. How do you handle similar tensions?

From the Fathers

Chromatius of Aquileia: “That water (at the pool of Bethesda) was moved once a year; this water of the Church’s baptism is always ready to be moved. That water was moved only in one place; this water is moved throughout the entire world. Then an angel descended; now it is the Holy Spirit. Then it was the grace of the angel; now it is the mystery of the Holy Trinity.”

St. John Chrysostom: “The perseverance of the paralytic was astonishing. He was there thirty-eight years and each year he hoped to be freed from his disease. He lay there waiting, never giving up. If he had not persevered as much as he did, wouldn’t his future prospects, let alone the past, have been enough to discourage him from staying around that place?...That man had been waiting thirty-eight years without obtaining what he desired, and he still did not withdraw….[We] might persist in prayer for something for ten days or so, and if we have not obtained it, we are too lazy afterwards to employ the same energy (as he did).” (Homilies on the Gospel of John 36:1–2)

Ephrem the Syrian: “Would it not have sufficed (to say), ‘Arise and go’? Would it not have been a miracle that he, who was not able to turn himself about on his bed, should arise easily and go? But to show that he had given him a complete healing (the Lord) also made him carry his bed.”

Theodore of Mopsuestia: “The healed one did not know who it was who healed him because Jesus hid as soon as he healed him. It would have been typical of someone looking for glory if he had stayed around with the one whom he had healed. It would have been typical of someone who desired public exposure. But we see our Lord cautiously avoiding this.” (Commentary on John 5:10–11)

St. John Chrysostom: “Someone might ask, ‘Do all diseases proceed from sin?’ Not all, but most do. Some proceed from different kinds of loose living, since gluttony, intemperance and sloth produce similar sufferings.”

Gregory the Theologian: “Do not be thrown on your bed by sinning…. But as you now are, so walk, mindful of the command…Sin no more lest a worse thing happen to you.”

Resources for next week:

Corresponding items that can be purchased on Orthodox Marketplace: