My Broken Body: An Easter Meditation

In mid-November this past year, I completely tore my ACL and partially tore my meniscus. This injury made my knee so weak. There were times when I was simply walking after that I would turn too fast, my knee would lock, and I would stumble to the ground. Defeated and weak I knew that I could do nothing to heal myself. No amount of physical exercise could heal my torn ligaments. But, modern medicine has found a way to re-create and reconstruct the ACL ligament.

My surgeon was able to take tissue from a donor and guide it through my knee and anchor it with screws to my bones. With five small incisions, no bigger than a couple centimeters, my surgeon reconstructed my ACL and mended my torn meniscus. And, now by doing daily exercises and weekly physical therapy I am strengthening my new ligaments to be stable and usable in sports once again. The function I had lost, I am slowly regaining.

As I have gone through this process, the whole experience has truly been an allegorical experience of the gospel of Christ and his resurrection. This Easter season I read the beautiful words of St. Irenaeus who wrote, “The Lord himself became the first-fruits of the resurrection of mankind, and when its time of punishment for disobedience is over the rest of the body, to which the whole human race belongs, will rise from the grave as the head has done. By God’s aid it will grow and be strengthened in all its joints and ligaments, each member having its own proper place in the body.”[1] Reading these words made my mind understand the beauty of the gospel in a deeper way than I previously knew. My knee and surgical repair, in a sense, became an illustration of the incarnation of Jesus Christ.

For, as the torn ligaments in a knee are broken, so is humanity. Just listen to or read the daily news to know that mankind is not functioning properly. It seems that with every step forward, we collectively seem to stumble. But, there is good news. Jesus Christ is both the donor and the surgeon of broken humanity. Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man. As our physician, he knew that in order to draw mankind back into fellowship with the Trinity, God would have to become man. For, that which God assumes, God heals. Jesus assumed broken man’s body and soul. Jesus in his death became mankind’s salvific donor. But, he does not stop there. Once Jesus died and satisfied the inadequacies of man before God, he himself uses his body and blood to do surgery on the human race. Jesus Christ transplants his nature onto his Church by pouring out his very Spirit in the resurrection. And, Jesus uses his Church to anchor our faith in him. Jesus then gave man exercises to strengthen his transplanted ligaments. Through baptism, the Eucharist, the preaching of the word, the signing of hymns, the reading of the scriptures, prayer, and fasting, mankind can strengthen his reconstructed ligaments to once again have their original purpose.

But sadly, no matter how perfectly I rehab my knee, I will never reach one hundred percent of my functionality, and this is where the surgery metaphor falls apart. For, in Jesus Christ, mankind will not only reach its original functionality, rather it will exceed it. In Christ Jesus, we will receive exceedingly good blessings, truly eternal blessings. In the final resurrection mankind will be partakers in the perfection of God, knowing no sin and vice. Mankind will be always loving, always just, always courageous, and always temperate, relying on the grace of God perfectly for all of eternity. Our broken bodies will be healed and our souls will be at rest in God. And this is the message of the Gospel: salvation is both now and not yet. We can experience a strengthening and stability in our ligaments through participation in Christ’s Church, but we will not receive our new and eternal ligaments till the final resurrection in Jesus Christ out Lord! May this be our meditation this Easter: that Jesus is both our donor and our surgeon, our healing process has begun, and we will be fully healed on that great and glorious day when we see Christ face to face! All physical and spiritual ailments will be healed by those who put their faith in Jesus Christ, the God-man. Praise be to God, for Christ is risen! Yes, he is risen indeed!

[1] St. Irenaeus. Against Heresies (Lib. 3, 19, 1.3–20,1; SC 34, 322).

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