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What is a beautiful body?

Is it a sexy body, the one belonging to models and beauty queens? Is it a strong body, the one you seen in bodybuilders and weightlifters? Is it a healthy body, free of toxins, nourished by vegetarian meals?

If we consult the Scriptures today, we can say that a beautiful body is not the sexy body, not the healthy body, not the strong body. I’ll tell you a story…

I administered the Sacrament of Anointing to a man past his 90’s. His body was worn-out, legs and arms immobile, eyes and ears failing. He had strong hands though, big and calloused from years of intense labor.

This old man came from a large family and in his early years learned to work as a fisherman to assist his parents and help his siblings go through school. While his brothers and sisters finished college, he never made it to high school. He later married and raised a family, supporting all his children to college and beyond – all through his simple job as a fisherman.

The man’s body, as it lay on his sick bed, was a wasted, broken body. It was not sexy, strong or healthy. It was broken…but it was very beautiful! Because it was a body that gave life to others. A body that gave itself selflessly…

Notice the body of our parents or grandparents. Notice your mother’s hands, wrinkled and rough due to washing and cooking. Notice your father’s shoulders, drooping and low due to constant work. Notice the curve of your grandparents’ backs, as a result of years of silent sacrifice. These are the real beautiful bodies.

The Body of Christ is the most beautiful body of all. Look at the Cross and see the wounds, the fatigue, the blood, the pain. The body of Jesus is a broken body that nevertheless gives life to all of humanity.

The Body of Christ, depicted on the cross, is present on this altar in the form of Bread. This bread which will become the Body of the Lord for us is beautiful because it is broken – it is to be received, to be shared, to be eaten, to be digested, to be dissolved – so that we can live and have meaning in living.

When we eat the Body of Jesus, it is he who nourishes us, forgives us, inspires us, blesses us. Even when we adore the same Body of Christ in the tabernacle of the church or the Adoration Chapel, Jesus is broken so that we can share his presence.

Take this and eat…this is My Body. Take this and drink…this is My Blood. Today we celebrate the Body of Christ, the most beautiful body in the world. Because it is a broken body. Broken that we may live! Say Amen to that!