Many people today devote a great deal of time to modern temples of beauty and wellness. In the gym for dips, pull-ups and presses. In spas for massage, waxing, and facials. In cosmetic clinics for reduction, augmentation, and alteration. All these troubles and all these pains in the name of self-improvement, self-confidence and self-acceptance.

It is not wrong to love our bodies. Just as we receive our body as a gift, we have the responsibility to keep ourselves healthy and safe. But for many people, caring for the body has taken the dimension of insane obsession. Already beautiful, they still feel insecure, incomplete, and unsatisfied. This is because for them the perfect body has become the focus of existence, the only value in life.

These past weeks we have been learning about the Body of Christ discourse in John. The Lord explains how in the deep loving design of the Father for the salvation of his children, he sent his Son to the world. The Son in turn, bestows the gift of his own Self, his body and his blood, to redeem us from sin. In today’s gospel, the Lord Jesus clarifies the reason why he gives himself: for the life of the world.

There is no tinge of selfish motive in Jesus words, no hidden agenda that redounds to his own satisfaction and happiness. His words and its later fulfillment on the cross reveal only a profound desire for our good of all of us, his brothers and sisters. Such a generosity and kindness is rare in today’s world, where people are forced to think of their own survival before they consider helping

others. For those who follow the Lord, however, he gives understanding of the true meaning of the body, its value as a gift and donation in love.

I recently discovered Chiara Corbella Petrillo. Her first two babies were born with defects that led to death shortly after birth. While conceiving her third baby, she was diagnosed with life-threatening cancer. However, she refused to undergo medication until she gave birth, fearing that this might imperil the life of her unborn son. After she delivered a healthy baby boy, Chiara’s condition quickly worsened. But at 28, she died in peace knowing that her sacrifice of her own body gave life to another. A truly inspiring wife and mother, Chiara is now a candidate for sainthood.

Like Chiara who learned the truth of the Body of Christ, let us pray to avoid selfish obsession and to attain instead, selfless love.