Augustinus

Volume 59, Issue 234/235, Julio/Diciembre 2014

Hans van Reisen, Marc van der Post
Pages 467-490

Enfermo durante treinta y ocho años. La predicación de san Agustín sobre la curación en la piscina de Betesda (Jn 5, 1-18)

This article deals with Augustine’s sermons on John 5,1-18, the story about the healing by Jesus on a sabbath at Bethesda of a men, who had been sick thirty-eight years. Augustine connects the events narrated in the gospel with everyday life: biblical stories happen not just in the distant past and in a far away land, but express God’s salvation history for people in the here and now. Augstine’s object is to stimulate different groups among his audience to truly live their faith: he exhorts the candidates for baptism to attend the Christian bathhouse (the baptisterium); together with the baptized he helps them throughout a life of difficulty (38 years of illness) to attain a deeper experience of God’s commandments through the double commandment of love (38+2=40). He helps his listeners to consider the special function of their bed as a reference to their neighbor and to reflect on the sense of the seventh-day rest as the destination of each person’s life’ journey. Outsiders he points to the special role and significance of Jesus Christ. Finally, Augustine transforms the tension that is visible in the gospels between Jesus and the Jews into a careful and critical contemplation of all differences between those who share a spiritual and intellectual closeness: he interprets this tension as an encouragement to come to a deeper knowledge of each other and so to banish mutual disaffection. The healed man in the bathhouse becomes a figure of all people, both through his long illness and through the fact that Jesus cured him.