“This is my body, broken for you,” said Christ to his disciples in the upper room. They had gathered to break bread together, something they had done many times before in different places. But that night was different. He was about to be betrayed, arrested, tried, and put to death.
And so he said, very seriously, very solemnly----“This is my body, broken for you.”
What is it like to think about Jesus walking all over the countryside, up and down hills, through the wilderness and into the city, and then sitting down to a meal, declaring,
“This is my body, broken for you”?
What does it mean, that the body of Christ is broken?
Some of us understand this more deeply, more personally than the rest of us. Some of us have bodies that are sometimes called “broken.” Legs don’t work or arms don’t work, body parts may be missing or atypical. Brain may work differently. Pain may be chronic. Or there may be other differences, and all may be labelled “broken.”
Christ’s body, broken. Our bodies, broken.
This is not how we usually think of Christ’s body being broken for us.
Why is that?
We usually picture the bread, a loaf torn in half. In fact, usually the loaf is pre-cut so it requires only minimal effort to “break the bread” during the sacrament of Holy Communion. What would it be like to watch the pastor struggle and sweat a bit to tear that loaf in two? Would we run out of patience?
Would we wonder why it is so difficult?
Would we think about the difficulty of breaking an actual body? The strength it took to drive nails through hands, through feet, cracking bones as they went? The strength that ebbed from the body, leading to death?
“This is my body, broken for you!”
Holy Week is a time when the body of Christ becomes very vivid. He sits on a donkey. He turns over tables in the Temple. He sweats blood as he prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, begging God to do something to take him away from the cross. He is whipped. Crown of thorns on his head. And the horrible, cringe-making image of nails in hands and feet, hanging from a cross, being thirsty and finally a spear in his side, ensuring that he is dead. Carried to a tomb, his body limp and helpless.
Such a physical, bodily week!
Christ’s body, broken for us.
For all of us.
Those of us whose bodies are whole. Those of us whose bodies are called “broken.” All are saved by the love of Christ. All are now the Body of Christ.
The Body of Christ is still broken, for us. Broken so that there is room for all of us. Broken so the light and love and grace can both enter and then be shared even further. Broken so that all of us know that Christ has gone through pain and suffering, human like us, sharing our own pain and suffering.
“This is my body, broken for you.”
Receiving the bread during Holy Communion, we are reminded that he became human like us so that we can share in his divineness, having eternal life.
But for now, with our own broken bodies, we can know just how much he loves us, with everything he was----his own body broken. For us.
Sharon McCart, M.Div., is chair of the Disability Ministries Committee